Second NYE helicopter v. drone near miss prompts calls for Civil Aviation to step in

Pilots are issuing a second warning in as many days about the dangers of drones in our skies.

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Another helicopter pilot has described a near miss, after a police helicopter’s scare on New Year’s Eve. Source: 1 NEWS

Yesterday, police warned of a near New Year’s Eve tragedy over Auckland, avoided only by a police helicopter taking evasive action.

Now a second pilot has come forward and laid a complaint with Civil Aviation, claiming three drones were flying dangerously close to his chopper that same night – over the crowded streets of the CBD.

“They got within 30 metres of us,” Specialist Film pilot Tony Monk says. “The consideration, if it had hit us, would have meant possibility the lives of people on the machine let alone the big crowds in the city at the time.”

His complaint comes a day after police raised concerns that a drone forced its Eagle helicopter crew to take evasive action on New Year’s Eve, triggering a stern warning to drone operators.

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The pilot’s evasive manoeuvres “potentially saved lives”, Inspector Jim Wilson told media today. Source: 1 NEWS

“The actions of these people were dangerous, totally irresponsible, and police will be investigating thoroughly,” said Inspector Jim Wilson, Acting District Commander Auckland City.

Civil Aviation was unable to comment today but says any reported incidents will be thoroughly investigated. The authority issued a pre-Christmas press release reminding drone users to be responsible and operate within the rules.

But Mr Monk says the message isn’t getting through. Hey says the drones near his chopper on Monday broke a number of rules – flying too high, at night and over crowds.

“Stay away from public property, people and crowds,” he said. “It’s more a case of educating people that they just can't do this. Not prosecute straight away - just put down the hard rule that you just can't do this.”

With big events like the America’s Cup coming up, it’s important that Civil Aviation get it sorted soon, he says.