Planning for commercial drone flights in built up urban areas like Greater Sydney is a complex and thorough process. Thanks to her training in safety processes and procedures, as well as her Remote Pilot License, SHEQ (Safety, Health, Environment & Quality) Advisor Ankita Raju is well placed to deliver. 

Ankita is based out of our Kings Park office in Sydney's west. Her role sees her providing health and safety advice to employees, contractors and liaising with the client across metropolitan Sydney.  

Ankita Raju - In front of Ventia


When I interviewed for the role, I was told it would be full-on and fast paced," Ankita says. "And it has fulfilled expectations!


Ankita says she enjoys working on such a diverse contract and having the opportunity to contribute to how we operate, especially when it comes to the safety of our people and the client's customers.

"I am gaining a lot of really practical experience in this role," she says. "It is difficult to understand the challenges and obstacles people are faced with, until you see them for yourself." 

Ankita notes that her role is based heavily on legislation and regulations, which came in handy when she was asked whether she'd like to join the growing ranks of drone pilots at Ventia.

"I am always keen to learn new skills, so of course I said yes," she says. "One of the first things I learned was that my lack of computer gaming as a teen has meant worse thumb dexterity than some of my classmates! I had to learn how to manipulate the controls and basically train my muscles to remember how to do it, so it started to become more natural." 

Ankita Raju flying drone

Aside from the practical training on drones, to qualify as a pilot, Ankita went through several days of theory training, including in physics and maths, and a lot of time spent on airspace law.

Ankita says that one challenge she knows they'll have using drones is in getting permission from CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) to fly in built-up areas. 

We need to develop a robust procedure that we can operate against, and have it approved by CASA," she explains. "So, my background in preparing health and safety plans will really come in handy.

The  team is planning to use drones to inspect the roofs of the many properties including high-rise buildings, to reduce the safety risk inherent in having people working at height.

Ventia has 10 Critical Risk Protocols (CRPs), which cover our top high-risk activities that, if not effectively understood and controlled, could result in serious injury.  

The CRPs establish the essential requirements and behaviours for managing these safety risks on Ventia's projects. 

Ankita says of those, the team identified the four that present the highest risk to their employees and contractors, one of which one is Working at Heights. 

the team flying drones

"We undertake not only inspections of the buildings and their roofs but also do large scale refurbishments and maintenance upgrades of assets including low, medium and high-density residential complexes," she says. "This often introduces scaffolding requirements so it's important to understand and remove or mitigate the risks to our people."

The training that Ankita had in gaining her operating license for drones was intense, she says, but very rewarding. 

I really felt like I accomplished something important, and I'm looking forward to using my new skills to develop plans and then actually undertake flights across the various buildings in the portfolio.