Statement from the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association

For immediate release

Drone incident at AKL airport: NZALPA calls again for registration/licencing of operators

6 March 2018

A drone that caused 20 aircraft to divert landing at New Zealand’s biggest air transport hub, including an Air New Zealand flight from Tokyo to Auckland forced to divert 500 km away to Palmerston North, has appalled the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA).

The incident, that reportedly occurred just before 12pm today, has renewed NZALPA calls for all drone operators to be registered and licensed.

“This incident was a clear breach of Civil Aviation rules but, as we are constantly highlighting, the operator was likely to have been unaware of what the actual rules are,” said NZALPA President and commercial airline pilot Tim Robinson. 

“We are going to see much more of these types of incidents, including today’s which disrupted many people’s plans and could have been so much worse, unless the Civil Aviation Authority heed our call for better education of drone operators.  This is best done through registration and licensing which will mean both opportunity to educate as well as more likely identify who the operators are.”

Police have reported that they do not have any current leads on who was operating the drone in today’s incident.

“A formalised registration and licensing regime will also give those in the air, as well as those on the ground, the comfort in knowing that drone operators meet at least minimum competency standards,”  Robinson said.   

“It’s likely that the operator involved in today’s incident will get off scot free even though he put in jeopardy the welfare and potential lives of many air transport crew and the travelling public.”



Media contact:  Lisa-Marie Richan 027 2780441