13 Dec 2016

Before you put a drone in the Christmas stocking...

1:22 pm on 13 December 2016

Considering buying a drone for Christmas? The head of the Nelson Airport company is warning there are strict rules on where they can be flown.

Drone flying

Drone1 Photo: 123RF

Rob Evans says the popularity of remotely piloted aircraft is growing rapidly.

A Retail New Zealand online source The Register said the number of drones listed for sale online increased by 118 percent in a year.

Mr Evans said operators need permission from air traffic control to fly in controlled airspaces, which includes the airspace above and close to all New Zealand cities, and many towns.

The rules were tightened after the pilot of a plane en route from Christchurch to Auckland reported a large drone pass close to the aircraft at an altitude of 1800 metres.

Mr Evans said Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules should be provided with each new drone sold.

"Most people have good intentions and want to have a bit of fun with them. The retailers are meant to give you a pamphlet of information, or where to go to find more information."

Under the CAA rules, which came into effect in August 2015, drones are classified as unmanned aerial vehicles, and users have to have a safety plan in place and consent from the owners of property they are flying over.

Those who cannot get consent can still fly a drone if they have an operating certificate from the CAA.

Operators also need to have certification from the CAA if a drone is used at night, beyond the line of sight or above 120m.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs