Hamilton drone pilot under investigation

CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 13:04 06/03/2014

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A Hamilton marketing business is under investigation after police received two complaints about a video it posted online shot over Hamilton with a flying camera.

Adam Crouchley, of Dori Media, is under Civil Aviation Authority investigation after Hamilton police received complaints that his 3 minutes and 20 seconds video on YouTube broke the law.

Crouchley posted a link to the video to his Facebook page on Saturday morning after police called at his Hamilton East home at 7.45am asking him to remove the video because someone had complained to CAA.

It had been on YouTube since Thursday.

The police gave him a warning because the video showed night footage, and video had been shot close to buildings.

"They said there was a complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority and told me I was was not allowed to fly at night, in the city within 150 metres of buildings," Crouchley said.

"They said to me: 'I see you were flying in Victoria St, which is close to the police station. You are not allowed to fly close to the police station'."

Crouchley said police had said the Phantom 2 drone was dangerous because its compass interfered with its GPS.

"I corrected him and he said, 'you can be smug all you like but you have broken the law', and I said, 'sure, I broke the rules, but I did not know there were rules'.

"Now I know them I am going to stick to them."

He took the video down on Monday and edited the night footage out before reposting it.

The new version plays for 2 minutes and 55 seconds.

Crouchley said he had shot the video for fun, after buying the drone online about three weeks before.

CAA spokesman Mike Richards said the authority was concerned about the flights. The operator might have committed an offence by flying the aircraft within Hamilton Airport's control zone.

"This is punishable upon conviction by a fine up to $5000 for an individual; or for a company by a fine up to $30,000," Richards said.

"Alternately the director [of Civil Aviation Graeme Harris] could impose an infringement fee of $2000 in the case of an individual; or $12,000 for a company."

It was also an offence for an operator to fly at night, Richards said.

"We note that the Waikato Hospital is situated within the control zone in the city sector."

If an offence had been committed Harris had several intervention tools available, including education, issuing a formal written warning, an infringement offence notice or prosecution.

"The CAA may be concerned with video footage of offending being in the public domain if that footage had potential to encourage others to operate in a similar manner," Richards said.

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"The same could apply with respect to any footage showing a remotely piloted aircraft system operating at night."

- Waikato Times

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