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NZ first: Man on trial for flying drone over Canterbury forest fire

A Canterbury man who flew a drone over a forest fire has been accused of endangering lives in the first prosecution of its kind.

Simon Reeve is on trial at the Christchurch District Court accused of breaching civil aviation law. Source: 1 NEWS

Simon Reeve is on trial at the Christchurch District Court charged with three breaches of Civil Aviation Law.

In January last year he twice flew his drone, filming a blaze at Pines Beach, and another fire a couple of weeks later.

He passed the footage to media, which prompted CAA to investigate.

They say he shouldn't have been flying in the area without permission as it was a high pressure area with multiple hazards, including firefighting helicopters and those on the ground below.

"It shouldn't have been airborne once the helicopter was in the area," prosecutor Chris Macklin says.

Reeve denied the charges, with his lawyer saying there was no endangerment, with the drone shielded below the tree line.

He is also trying to clarify what the rules actually are.

The case is seen as a possible test of how CAA rules apply to drones.

Reeve faces a fine of up to $10,000 or 12 months in jail.