New Zealand minister rejects calls for tougher drone curbs

Wellington, Sep 27 (IANS) New Zealand Transport Minister Simon Bridges has rejected calls for tougher drone regulations in the wake of one that nearly hit a commercial plane last week, the media reported on Sunday.

On September 25, an Air New Zealand A320 jet carrying 166 people on-board reported to have nearly hit what the pilot said looked like a drone, at an altitude of 6,000 feet. The drone was above the clouds and well beyond the legal height limits set for drones earlier this year, Radio New Zealand reported.

The Air Line Pilots Association said more was needed to be done such as compulsory installation of “see-and-avoid” technology, and identity markings. The association said it had had reports of drones being flown unlawfully almost every day.

However, Bridges said the current rules were enough and changes were not required.

“It wouldn’t actually have affected this concerning incident that we’ve had over the weekend because look the regulations already make such kind of conduct unlawful and there’s an effective penalty regime to deal with that.”

Pilots have called for the compulsory installation of “see-and-avoid” technology on drones, compulsory identity markings on the machines and a comprehensive education programme for all drone operators.

The Civil Aviation Authority has urged drone-users to understand aviation rules following the near-miss.

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