An Air New Zealand flight arriving from Tokyo and making its way down to Auckland airport was put in jeopardy on Tuesday when a drone came daringly close to the aircraft. The crew on board, as well as the close on 300 passengers, was put in danger because of the lack of concern for drone flight safety. Air New Zealand calls for harsh punishment and prison time for offending drone operators.
The incident in question
Air New Zealand flight NZ92, a Boeing 777-200, had reached a critical point in its descent, which made evasive action an option that could not be considered if something went wrong. The pilot claimed to have seen the drone crossing their path about 5 meters from the aircraft. The drone flew within close proximity to the aircraft. So close, in fact, that there were concerns that it may have been pulled up into the engine. This could have caused a number of things that would not have ended well. The adverse effect of this could be public prejudice toward all drones. However, it is also the reason that aviation laws are now in place to assist in protecting the public.
Drone control measures
The airlines Chief Operations Officer, David Morgan, is also in charge of integrity standards for the airline. He has made it clear that the time has arrived for drone operators to feel the wrath of the law. Recklessness that endangers the lives of travellers is not acceptable. While he supports the need to punish offenders he also states that drone education is vital. Users need to understand that responsible operation can assist with freedom of flight.
The sudden increase in the use of drones in New Zealand may have caught them unaware. They are not the only country struggling with the same thing. It’s time to take action before disaster strikes.