The proposal of a restricted testing area for commercial drones at Central Otago airport ended in a heated brawl. The public meeting held to discuss the plan did not receive the expected reaction. The gathering turned sour, and the chief executive of Skybase, Michael Read, was forced to leave his presentation unfinished. The meeting held on Tuesday was attended by nearly 100 representatives of the industry in the area, as well as landowners. It was facilitated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Alexander in Their Sights
Read has cited the reasons for the selection of Alexander as the test site. The area is known for its low air traffic, which would mean that no significant disruptions would be caused. The climate experienced by the area is also perfect. Moderate winds, lots of sunshine and low rainfall make it the prime location. He did go on to say, that should the public provide too much resistance, alternatives would be investigated.
The public in attendance was not prepared to lay down the gauntlet and countered Read’s reasoning with their own. The suggestion of using the Australian desert for this kind of testing was met with the response that the initiative would no longer be a New Zealand one, should that be the route followed. The attendees were opposed to the statement that air traffic was low in the area. Many stated that traffic out of Dunedin, Wanaka and Queenstown, all formed part of the traffic in the area. Landowners were up in arms because they had not been notified of the proposal. They showed grave concern for the complication of their farming operations.
The road is set to be a long one. Submissions are expected to come pouring in. Each has to be investigated, and evaluated, to find the solutions, before any decisions can be made.