The following release can be attributed to Constable Brent Whittington:
Franz Josef Police is urging people to take more care and consider others' safety when flying drones.
At about midday on Sunday 30 April, a man decided to fly a drone recreationally at approximately 300-400m in the helicopter flight path at Franz Josef’s Glacier Country Heliport.
Police received a report of this from the Heliport manager who was extremely concerned as aircraft arrive at the heliport on a regular basis and the drone was being flown directly over the landing pads.
The drone user had no knowledge of the controlled airspace or rules surrounding the operation of drones, and had not sought authorisation from the property owner to use the drone in this area.
This is the second time people flying drones inappropriately have been spoken to by Police in one week. On top of that another four sightings have been noted by members of the public in the two weeks leading up to yesterday's occurrence.
On this occasion, the drone was stopped before it caused any problems. Police spoke to the man and he was given a formal warning.
Glacier Country Heliport is one of the busiest heliports in New Zealand, with up to 15 helicopters operating at any one time. Our whole community needs the heliport to operate safely and the unauthorised use of drones is potentially a huge risk to that.
Franz Josef Police is working together with heliport managers and DOC to ensure safety for all those who use and visit our heliport and town.
The heliport is also taking steps to prevent drone flight in the danger zones, including installing signs for the state highways and heliport perimeter to help raise awareness.
Anyone using a drone in New Zealand should ensure they are familiar with parts 101 and 102 of the Civil Aviation Act NZ. Failure to do so could result in fines of up to $35,000. More information on this can be found at www.caa.govt.nz/rpas.
Issued by Police Media Centre