27 Nov 2014

Better communication urged over drones

7:48 am on 27 November 2014

A precision agriculture expert is warning better communication methods are needed between farmers using drones and aircraft pilots before a collision occurs.

A small drone is controlled by remote.

A small drone is controlled by remote. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

The Civil Aviation Authority is looking to tighten the rules and regulations around the use of drones next year.

Massey University professor Ian Yule said amid the new regulations, information about when, where and how high drones are being flown needs to be better shared with aerial top dressers and sprayers.

Professor Yule said emails and phone calls to farmers and pilots had not seemed to work and while no accidents had occurred yet, there had been some close calls.

The agriculture industry needed to demonstrate that it could operate safely and that may need to include training to operate a drone, he said.

The Civil Aviation Authority hopes to get the new rules in place in 2015. General manager Steve Moore said under the rules, an owner would need an operators' certificate if a drone could pose a risk to people or become a hazard.

That process might include pilot training, hazard identification or other safety matters and would be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Recreational users may not face any changes under the proposed laws unless they want to fly above high buildings, at night or close to airfields.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs