Drone close shave might see rules tightened - operator

  • 01/01/2019

A commercial drone operator fears licencing users may have to come into force after a horror encounter for the police Eagle helicopter.

An unmanned aircraft was dangerously close to clipping the chopper near Auckland's Spaghetti Junction just after midnight, as 2018 made way for 2019.

The pilot took evasive action and managed to land safely.

Bevin Lealand from Quadcam Drones says the Government might be tempted to crack down on users - but there are other approaches.

"They could end up electronically restricting the aircraft to certain flight areas, and also they can stop them flying at night as well - they just lock them out," he told Newshub.

Mr Lealand suspects users who received drones as Christmas gifts and don't know the rules may be to blame.

There are already restrictions in place when flying at night.

"You can fly at night, but it's shielded operations - so it means you're behind a building or a big tree, something like that, where an aircraft's not going to come down low."

The device came within 10 metres of the helicopter, which was more than 400m in the air, and there were at least two other drones nearby.

The pilot was left shaken and the incident is being investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority.

"This could easily have ended in a tragedy and it is a worrying reminder of the dangers of flying drones near other aircraft," said Insp Jim Wilson, acting district commander.


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