Police call for drone crackdown

  • 02/01/2019

The Police Association wants a drone that nearly hit an Eagle helicopter to be confiscated.

The aircraft narrowly avoided disaster just after midnight on New Year's Eve after a drone flew within 10 metres of it, as it flew more than 400m over Auckland's busy Spaghetti Junction.

Association president Chris Cahill says restrictions are needed.

"If that means confiscation and the inability to re-obtain them, that's probably the sort of thing that should be considered, given the serious consequences that can result from misuse."

Mr Cahill says drone sellers should be responsible for providing training and instructions.

"Make sure that there's proper instructions and training available, especially for the more sophisticated and high-powered drones that can travel higher and for further distances."

Mr Cahill says as drones become cheaper, they end up in the hands of people who don't know the safety regulations.

"Some of these recent incidents here and overseas have shown that they need to be GPS tagged so they can be identified easily, and more easily tracked once identified."

Alleged drones saw busy UK airport Gatwick shut down for more than a day, though UK police later admitted their own drones may have added to the scares.

Commercial drone operators fear irresponsible use of drones, particularly after Christmas, could see a crackdown on their industry.

"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," Bevin Lealand from Quadcam Drones told Newshub, adding that there were already tough rules about 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."

Police have not yet identified the New Year's Day Auckland drone pilot.


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