Playtime over? Authority considering registration scheme for drone users

Playtime over? Authority considering registration scheme for drone users
Photo credit: Getty

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is looking into a registration scheme for drone users.

New Zealand was one of the first countries to introduce rules around drone use but the authority has concerns about how many users actually know the rules. 

CAA deputy chief executive John Kay said that drones had 'leapfrogged' aviation standards and that the riskiest part of the 'disruptive' and 'rapidly evolving' technology was users' ignorance of the rules. 

"We have a view in-house that the current rules are reaching a point where they are going to be stretched pretty much to their limit," he told Newshub. 

That could be in part because of a lack of uptake of the Airshare app. 

Airshare gives drone users information about what the rules are and has maps which outline where you can fly. 

But a minuscule amount of drone users have actually signed up to the app - the CAA says just 1000 of an estimated 280,000 drone owners have the app. 

Mr Kay said the CAA was currently reviewing the regulations and was looking to the United Kingdom for inspiration - including investigating a registration scheme for drones. 

But if you already have a drone that may not apply to you. 

"The big challenge of course is what you do with all the things that are currently out there that are unregistered so this is probably drawing a line in the sand and looking forward," Mr Kay said

Another option to address safety concerns would be to use geoblocking technology which would prevent drones from flying in certain areas. 

"Imagine a fence in the sky," he said. 

But Mr Kay was careful not to overblow the safety concerns of drones saying while there had been quite a bit of publicity around drones flying close to commercial airplanes, there were still many more safety incidents with piloted aircraft than drones. 

"The incident rate is extremely low," he said.

Over the past five years there have been 29 prosecutions for drone use. 


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