(Source: New Zealand Herald)
Drone operators say a culture of “hysteria” around unmanned aerial vehicles threatens to ruin New Zealand’s chances of benefiting from the technology.
Friday’s reported near-miss between a remotely-piloted aircraft system (RPAS) and an Air New Zealand plane has sparked stern statements from the airline and from the Transport Minister.
But Digiflicks video producer Simon Baker, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operator, says panic threatens to derail innovation in the industry.
“I understand the safety concerns,” Mr Baker said.
“But the other concern is the hysteria around the word ‘drone’. There are fixed-wings that are known as drones as well, not just multi-rotors like I use, and a lot of other people are using.”
Mr Baker, of Christchurch, said UAVs offered benefits to law enforcement, surveying, forestry, and other industries.
He said most UAV operators would be very upset if a person had flown a drone so near a commercial aircraft.
“If that’s what it transpires to be, then please punish that person. That’s what we want – as an industry, we are all about safety as well.”
Paihia entrepreneur Jeremy Vaughan said the law made insufficient distinction between recreational and commercial users and a “carte blanche” approach was stifling innovation.
Mr Vaughan said he wanted to develop a drone with heavy-lifting applications for agriculture.
He said New Zealand was falling “way behind the times” and risked missing out on advances in UAV science and technology.
Mr Vaughan said he was working to develop drones capable of carrying chainsaws and lifting weights above 55kg.
He said people should register as drone users, and understand the law, but certified commercial users should have different restrictions from recreational users.Recreational UAV flyer Max Whitehead said primary industries including forestry and farming would benefit from drone technology.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com