Pilots urge drone review - catastrophic incident 'just a matter of time'

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The Airline Pilots Association is calling for further restrictions and precautions for drone operators as the number of complaints about their use continues to rise.

Tim Robinson of the NZAPA says a major accident is bound to happen soon unless new guidelines and restrictions are put in place.
Source: Breakfast

Tim Robinson of the NZ Airline Pilots Association says he's not surprised by the increase in complaints, and is very concerned about a general lack of knowledge about rules and correct operating procedure.

The number of complaints for incidents where safety or incorrect operation is the main issue has been on the rise over the past few years.

A graphic showing the number of drone complaints, current to May 19 2017

A graphic showing the number of drone complaints, current to May 19 2017.

Source: 1 NEWS

He also says a major accident involving a drone and a commercial or light aircraft is "just a matter of time considering the proliferation of the use of them, the number out there" and would like to see a review in the rules around their use.

"The current rules in New Zealand allow for drones up to 25kg for general use - now if one of those was to strike an aircraft or a helicopter or a light aircraft it would be catastrophic," Mr Robinson told TVNZ1's Breakfast programme today.

"I think it's just a matter of time, considering the proliferation of the use of them and the number out there."

Mr Robinson says he believes the Civil Aviation Authority is considering a review of the drone rules soon, and would like to see all users get involved.

"We'd certainly like all industry users to be involved in that review so that everybody gets a say," he said.

"We'd like to see drones over 2.5kg registered - that's now becoming an international standard for registration ... we'd also like to see some consistency in drone pilot training and certification so that at least we know we've got a minimum standard of training out there."

Tourists, some of the most common operators of drones in New Zealand, are not a problem in themselves, Mr Robinson says, but there needs to be a framework to ensure they know the rules.

"So those folk that are using them - whether they be tourists or locals - understand their requirements for the usage.

"We don't believe there is a great deal of knowledge out there."

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