The Cloncurry Airport will host a commercial drone flight testing facility as part of a raft of diversification initiatives for North-West Queensland.
And the world’s largest aerospace group – The Boeing Company – is lined up to conduct the first trials.
The State Government today announced it would invest $14.5 million in the first stage of the facility at Cloncurry – a project expected to create 65 jobs during construction.
Cloncurry Mayor Greg Campbell described the announcement as a major win for Cloncurry and the North West.
“This will create a hub for aerospace R&D that will be a new high-tech industry for the region, to create jobs and boost the local and state economy,” he said.
Construction of the new facility is scheduled to begin early next year.
Boeing director of Phantom Works International Shane Arnott said the company was looking forward to using the flight facility in 2020 to safely and securely test the latest advances in unmanned systems technology.
“The creation of what will be one of the world’s largest commercial unmanned flight test facilities is critical to establishing Australia as a global leader in autonomous technology,” Dr Arnott said.
The facility will include a hangar, operation room and surveillance radar and communications equipment. It will test small-to-medium sized drones weighing 30-150 kg.
The initiative supports the Palaszczuk Government’s North West Queensland Economic Diversification Strategy Implementation Plan 2019-2021, released this week.