Air New Zealand Calls For Tighter Drone Regulations

March 27, 2018

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Air New Zealand is calling for tighter regulation of drones after one of its aircraft came within a few feet of one on approach to Auckland Airport

The flight, a Boeing 777-200 operating NZ092 from Tokyo Haneda, was on its descent into Auckland when it encountered a drone the airline estimated to be only five metres (16 feet) away.

The airline said the incident is the second example of “reckless drone use” this month after one of its pilots reported a drone within controlled airspace near Auckland Airport on March 6. The airport halted flight operations for 30 minutes during the incident.

The airline’s Chief Operations Integrity and Standards Officer Captain David Morgan said serious drone incidents are on the increase and policy-makers need to protect the public. He said NZ092 was “just metres away from a serious incident.

“The pilots spotted the drone at a point in the descent where it was not possible to take evasive action. It passed so close to the incoming aircraft that they were concerned it may have been ingested into the engine.”

He called for tougher deterrents for reckless drone use around airports, including prison terms in the case of life-threatening incidents.

Under current New Zealand regulations, individual drone operators who breach Civil Aviation Rules can receive a fine of up to NZD$5000 (USD$3,650).