New Zealand and its airports have a notorious reputation involving drones. Over the last few years, New Zealand faced a number of on-air near-collisions between aircrafts and drones. Most of these events happened within 1 kilometer of their airports, increasing the risk for all involved.
It’s always the same story. A pilot or one of the crew onboard the plane spots a civilian drone in the area, hovering dangerously close to their plane. There is also a good chance that the drone will be spotted too late to fly out of the way. The pilot can only try to evade and maneuver out the way of the drone and hope that the drone will not crash into them. A lot of these cases are near-misses. Some however are unfortunate enough to actually make contact.
New Zealand Drone Registration
Sometimes these direct collisions leave dents that need repairing before the plane can take off again. Other times, these tiny drones no bigger than a backpack can take down an entire plane singlehandedly.
While all this is going on up in the air, the ground also becomes chaotic. Airports need to divert incoming flights and delay outgoing ones. They also need to contact the authorities while monitoring the movement of the drone. They literally cannot do anything other than wait until the drone and its owner grow bored and leave the airspace.
A solution to this growing problem with drone irresponsibility is issuing registration for drone owners. This way, civilian owners are more accountable to their drone’s actions. Maybe, just maybe, having one’s personal info attached to their drones will make them fly safer.
The good news is, this may actually be working. Many in the drone community share the sentiment. They too, after all, get the bad reputation the low percentage of irresponsible fliers create. As of this month, the voluntary registration in the country reached 10,000 drone owners. These include those who have owned drones for years, and are not obligated to give their information to regulations. For a more streamlined regulatory process, this is a good start. New Zealand also intends to make registration of new drone owners mandatory.
This program started in 2014, and the process is there – but slow. Still, progress is progress. For newer drone owners, stricter regulations are in place to ensure they know the weight of owning their very own machine. Will this help decrease airport incidents in the long run? Only time can tell.