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Pilots Welcome Guilty Verdict of Drone Operator


6 May 2016

Air Line Pilots’ Association Welcomes Guilty Verdict of Drone Operator

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) welcomes the decision of the Christchurch District Court earlier today, in finding a drone operator guilty of flying in restricted airspace and endangering a helicopter pilot at Pines Beach, near Kaiapoi.

RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems), or ‘drones’, offer incredible opportunities to carry out tasks that conventional aircraft currently cannot do, or can only accomplish at high risk to the pilot and others. However, when RPAS/drones are not operated in a responsible manner and come into close proximity of conventionally piloted aircraft they can pose a significant risk to aircraft, crew and passengers, both in terms of the consequences of an impact and also due to the ingestion of toxic materials into aircraft air systems.

It is therefore essential that government and stakeholders work together to integrate RPAS/drones safely into New Zealand airspace,” said NZALPA Senior Technical Officer Dave Reynolds. “Operators of these devices, no matter how small, need to fully understand the rules and their responsibilities. Education is vital, as is operator responsibility, and this is why we are advocating for mandatory registration of all RPAS above 0.22kg (0.5lb) in weight, as is currently required in the USA. It is also NZALPA’s view that large RPAS above 25kg (55lb)) should be operated in accordance with the same or equivalent requirements applicable to other aircraft sharing the same airspace, including operator competency and medical standards.”

NZALPA remains committed to its call for government, aviation safety regulators and the aviation industry to have a collaborative approach to the safe integration of RPAS/drones into New Zealand airspace.

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