All posts by Andrew Rieker

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The World Bank and V-TOL Aerospace are using drones to support the government of Tonga in its Rapid Damage Assessment after Cyclone Gita.

A fleet of V-TOL Aerospace’s drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, has been transported to Tonga with the support of the Australian government.

The Pacific regional representative for the World Bank, Michel Kerf, said the drones were being used to map the damage wreaked by Gita.

According to him, the mapping will be crucial to helping Tonga’s government determine priority areas for recovery and reconstruction.

Tonga has received a payout of more than US$3.5 mill from the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company.

It is the first payout made by the region’s first catastrophe risk insurance platform established in 2016.

The company falls under the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative which is a joint effort of the World Bank, the Asian Development and the Pacific Community with the financial support from Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

As well as the World Bank, governments of Australia and New Zealand, the ADB, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, European Union and United Nations Development Programme are helping Tongan authorities to identify priority sectors for the rapid damage assessment.

These sectors include housing, agriculture and energy.

*Original article without amendment can be found:

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Nuku’alofa, February 22, 2018 – Following the severe impact of Tropical Cyclone Gita, the World Bank has now begun work to support the government of Tonga, which is leading a Rapid Damage Assessment to assist with recovery and reconstruction planning in the coming months.

“Our work in mapping the damage wreaked by Cyclone Gita will be crucial to helping the government of Tonga to determine priority areas for recovery and reconstruction,” said World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, Michel Kerf. “In the immediate aftermath of recent natural disasters in the Pacific, including cyclones Winston (Fiji, 2016) and Pam (Vanuatu, 2015), the World Bank has been called upon to lead the immediate damage assessment process.”

The World Bank, together with partners including V-TOL Aerospace (UAV Services provider), the governments of Australia and New Zealand, the Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, European Union and United Nations Development Programme, is now working alongside Tongan authorities to identify priority sectors for the rapid damage assessment, which include housing, agriculture and energy.

As part of this assessment work, a fleet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or drones) have been transported to Tonga with the support of the Australian government, to provide a comprehensive visual assessment of the damage caused by Cyclone Gita.

Tonga has received a payout of more than US$3.5 million from the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company (PCRIC) – the first payout made by the region’s first catastrophe risk insurance platform established in 2016. PCRIC was formed as part of the World Bank’s regional project PCRAFI: Furthering Disaster Risk Finance in the Pacific, which provides technical assistance to 14 Pacific Island countries, with financial support from Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

“Despite the tragic circumstances, it has been good to see the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Insurance Company delivering much-needed relief through its disaster insurance system,” said Mr. Kerf. “This is the first payout of its kind, and is a testament to the hard work of many governments and development partners, who have worked hard over many years to create this critical support system for the Pacific Islands, home to many of the world’s most disaster at-risk countries.”

The World Bank continues to stand as a dedicated partner in resilient development in the Pacific Islands.

 *original article without additions can be found:


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Working with Hitachi on an MLA beef project, V-TOL Aerospace conducted an endurance flight in central QLD of a standard V-TOL GosHawk II Fixed Wing RPAS. The aim was to establish how far a V-TOL manufactured small RPA could fly. Operating at the edge of Day VLOS in light conditions at 400ft AGL, the GosHawk covered 151km in 2.35 hours.  It is estimated that if the GosHawk had been permitted to operate beyond its reserve, it could have achieved a distance of up to 170km.  “The V-TOL GosHawk II is a small (< 4kg) RPA, but has demonstrated it can fly a significant distance. Capable of being fitted with ADS-B and other UTM sense & avoid devices, it is capable of over the horizon BVLOS day & night operations. The GosHawk is the type of small hi-tech technology package that can deliver the commercial productivity gains required across Australia’s core industries,” said Mark Xavier CEO & Chief Pilot of V-TOL.  


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Working with uAvIonix, V-TOL Aerospace has successfully conducted ADS-B BVLOS flight operations in YAMB RAAF Airspace using a Ping20s. A V-TOL GosHawk II Fixed Wing RPAS was used and is seen as registration GOH009.  Operating independently of V-TOL NEURON, both data feeds from the Ping & NEURON produced identical flight tracks in real-time.  “We hope that on-going trials & demonstrations like this will progress the professional end of the industry in this country,” said Mark Xavier Chief Pilot of V-TOL.

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Working closely with the World Bank Project Team, Pacific Air Services Organisation,  Civil Aviation Department Tonga, & Civil Aviation Authority Fiji, V-TOL Aerospace has successfully completed the Five (5) comprehensive RPAS Flight Operation Activities & Data Processing jobs for UAV4Resiliance. Additional work was also conducted for the Government of Tonga, at the request of the Nation’s PM. The enclosed map of the main Island of Nuku’alofa shows where many of V-TOL aircraft operations occurred during the Tongan program.  Each aircraft ‘icon’ indicates where a V-TOL Aircraft  became active and or launched into the Tongan National Airspace. 1000s of km were flown during the BVLOS > 1000ft AGL operations including inter Island activities.


V-TOL & the World Bank Project Team will now spend the next several months developing activity reports  preparing for workshops that will result from the findings and recommendations of the in-field work.    


“The aim was to test how safely, rapidly and effectively a fly-in emergency RPAS response team can conduct large area hi-res surveys of Islands hit by a natural disaster,” says Mark Xavier CEO of V-TOL. “I believe the aims of the activities were achieved. We look forward to investigating how similar advanced RPAS operations can occur routinely in the Australian National Airspace where significant productivity gains can be made in our ‘core’ economic industries,” he continued.    


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The Australian Unmanned Systems Academy (AUSA), the Education & Training Arm of V-TOL Aerospace, has achieved its Australian Registered Training Organisation (RTO) number 45260. AUSA designated as RTO 45260, will now commence delivering & developing Certificate level courses in addition to its CASA Approved Remote Pilot License (RePL) courses to advance and enhance the career pathways for those wishing to enter the rapidly emerging global robotics & automation industry.


“AUSA was the first Australian company to deliver the CASA Approved RPAS Pilot Certificate Course & is now qualified to add RTO level Certificate Courses to its offerings,” says Frank Martin, CEO of AUSA.  “Our secret is the significant benefit of having open access to parent company V-TOL Aerospace’s design, manufacturing & operational experience which enables us to test & develop effective training outcomes”, says Frank.  “I’m extremely positive that the original vision we had for the Academy is now coming to fruition”, says Mark Xavier, CEO & a Founding Director of V-TOL. He continued, “Our aim is to synergistically link professional teaching to applied learning for commercial real-world outcomes.”


For further information please contact: or

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Working with the World Bank & operating in accordance with its Part 102 CAD Tonga issued Unmanned Aircraft (AU) Operator’s Certificate CAD/UAOC/01/17, Chief Pilot & CEO Mark Xavier, monitors live operations from the V-TOL Australian Head Office, in Brisbane.


A V-TOL manufactured GosHawk II Fixed Wing Surveyor aircraft is seen in real-time operating Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) at 1000ft AGL over the western end of Nuku’alofa Island, in the Kingdom of Tonga.


V-TOL Part 102 appointed Deputy Chief Pilot & project mission commander Andrew Rieker, is currently leading multi-aircraft BVLOS operations across the main Island of Nuku’alofa. In addition to standard risk mitigation, separation of V-TOL UA from manned civilian operations includes the utilisation of RelmaTech SIAM Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) technology providing live data feeds directly into Air Traffic Control (ATC) at Nuku’alofa International Airport.


“The benefit of conducting advanced operations is to test & demonstrate how safe, rapid & effective “fly-in” UA emergency response teams can be in conducting large scale wide area hi-resolution surveys of communities hit by natural disaster,” says Mark. “We look forward to conducting further long-range operations in the next few weeks demonstrating that UA operations can soon be an everyday routine occurrence in the SW Pacific region, ” he continued.


For further information please contact:

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To deliver the additional field activities of the World Bank’s UAV4Resiliance program, V-TOL has received its second International RPAS Operator’s Certificate covering the National Airspace of the Kingdom of Tonga. Issued by CAD Tonga as CAD/UAOC/01/17 under Part 102 (NZ) Regulations, this authorisation includes advanced permissions enabling multi-aircraft beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. These permissions will enable V-TOL to fly its RPAS types over & between the Tongan Islands. “V-TOL looks forward to operating with key members of CAD Tonga and the World Bank in demonstrating advanced RPAS survey & support in this SW Pacific region”, says V-TOL CEO Mark Xavier. “To conduct advanced BVLOS missions, V-TOL has integrated RelmaTech’s SIAM UTM technology into each of its aircraft enabling Tongan ATC at Nuku’alofa real-time visibility of our operations”, he continued.

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Hitachi & V-TOL Aerospace have executed a Global Agreement to develop and commercialise a new generation of autonomous robotic products & services.


Designed to support Hitachi’s IoT cloud based platform Process Intelligence (HPI) an Industrial level Enterprise business solution, the collaboration is aimed at supplying the in-field robotic & Ai technologies to enable HPI to sense, process & action ‘core’ industry business requirements in real-time.


“Hitachi’s vision for HPI takes business innovation & understanding to a new level to benefit industry & society,” says V-TOL CEO Mark Xavier. He continued, “V-TOL has been offered a unique opportunity to work with a highly respected global corporate leader to deliver advanced technologies that will increase productivity & reduce waste in many of our core industries”.


Approved for release Hitachi/V-TOL 12 Sep 2017