Tougher drone rules on the way

  • 23/07/2015
Tougher drone rules on the way

By Paul Purcell

Drone owners will need to request permission to take-off every time they want to fly them outside their own property under strict rules unveiled by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will not be permitted to take to the sky without owner permission of the land they will fly over, and the people in that area.

This means if an aerial enthusiast wanted to fly their UAV in a local park, they'd need the permission of the council and every person at the park before taking off.

However UAV owners can avoid the rule changes with a CAA operating certificate, but it's unclear how much that will cost and long it will take to be approved.

"Having a conversation with a property owner beforehand is an effective means of risk management because they are likely to have the best knowledge of the risks," CAA general manager Steve Moore said today.

"These changes address the safety risks that modern unmanned aircraft pose to other airspace users as well as people and property on the ground."

Other new regulations include operators to present a safety plan to the CAA if they want to fly their drones outside the existing rules.

New Zealand's Air Navigation Service Airways and ACT leader David Seymour both commended the changes after there was a reported 53 incidents involving UAVs in the first six months of 2015, nearly double the 2014 total.

But operators are less thrilled.

Aerial photographer Tim Whittaker said the new laws would be very difficult to police.

"It is basically going to give the authority to prosecute if people get stupid," he told NZN.

The new regulations come in effect on August 1.