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RPAS incident being fully investigated

RPAS incident being fully investigated

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says a potential incident between a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) and a commercial plane above Christchurch last night is being treated very seriously.

The pilot of an Air New Zealand A320, with passengers on board, reported sighting a RPAS flying in controlled air space north of Christchurch at about 5:45pm.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Safety Investigation Unit launched a full investigation shortly after the pilot reported the sighting.

Mr Bridges says he was fully briefed by the director of the CAA last night and is being regularly updated.

“While this reporting is concerning, I am satisfied that it is being investigated fully, with urgency, and is being treated very seriously.

“I am also confident that the Government’s new regulatory regime for RPAS is fit for purpose and able to deal with every possible circumstance.

“Unsafe RPAS flights are unlawful and will be dealt with accordingly,” he says.

New civil aviation rule (Rule Part 102) for RPAS came into effect on 1 August 2015. Under the new rule, anyone who wants to fly a RPAS beyond what is allowed for traditional model aircraft — such as at night, beyond line of sight or above 400 feet — needs to apply for certification from the CAA.

Mr Bridges says it is important that anyone wanting to fly a RPAS is aware of, and follows, the regulations that exist to ensure aviation safety.

The Police have filed a report and CAA investigators are working to determine the details of the event, and locate the RPAS operator.

ENDS

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