Drone's near-miss with police helicopter prompts calls for tighter regulations

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 2 January 2019, 8:24AM
A drone nearly brought down a police Eagle helicopter. (Photo / Supplied)

Pilots are calling for tougher regulations around drones to prevent more near misses, like the close call in Auckland early on New Year's Day.

A drone came within 10 metres of the police Eagle helicopter above Spaghetti Junction just after midnight, forcing the pilot to take evasive action.

It happened at 1400 feet, and two other drones were spotted nearby.

Airline Pilots' Association President Tim Robinson told Tim Dower he wants quick changes, like restricting the altitude at which drones can be flown.

"We're calling for compulsory registration. There needs to be better education of the pilots that are operating the drones, and with compulsory registration, you can target that education better."

Inspector Jim Wilson, the acting district commander of Auckland City, told media the actions of these people were dangerous, totally irresponsible and police will be investigating thoroughly.

He said tighter regulations on drones may be a result of the investigation, but it was too early days to tell at the moment.

"The incident from the early hours of this morning could have easily ended in tragedy for all and it is a timely reminder of the dangers of flying drones near other aircrafts," he said.

"It could have absolutely been a fatal collision and we are just really pleased that we got the outcome that we did and the helicopter was able to evade the drone."

Wilson said the drone came within 5-10 metres of the helicopter and the pilot had to veer away from that object.

He said it was too early to say if the action was deliberate, however, the Eagle helicopter was flying in the Central City area which is an exclusion zone for drones.


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