Safety concerns prompt model aeroplane club to call for size limits

South Canterbury Model Aero Club vice-president Robbie Hellewell launches his Parkzone Visionair AS3X aircraft into the ...
DOUG FIELD/STUFF

South Canterbury Model Aero Club vice-president Robbie Hellewell launches his Parkzone Visionair AS3X aircraft into the air at Ashbury Park.

Timaru's model aeroplane club is taking aim at people flying unwieldy and potentially dangerous machines, asking the district council to introduce a size limit on model aircraft. 

South Canterbury Model Aero Club member Daniel Naude said there had been reports of large planes being flown around the popular Ashbury Park area, which he said was "irresponsible". 

"Unless the [council] explicitly prohibit the flying of aircraft, other than the recommended restriction, [it] could be held responsible for property damage or injury of any person or animal." 

One of the major safety risks was people sustaining injuries to their fingers if they tried to stop a model aeroplane in ...
DOUG FIELD/STUFF

One of the major safety risks was people sustaining injuries to their fingers if they tried to stop a model aeroplane in flight, or pick it up.

Naude - also the South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator- made an informal submission to the Timaru District Council in its bylaw review, asking for planes 1kg and larger to only be flown at Civil Aviation Authority and MFN-approved airfields. 

READ MORE: New acrobatics plane for South Canterbury aero club

"People use [Ashbury Park] to walk their dogs and play sports," he said. 

Model aircraft can weigh up to 15kg, and some models can fly at up to 70 kilometres per hour. ​

"Allowing anyone to operate any size model aircraft, even under "due care and attention", puts the public, the operator of the aircraft and the Timaru District Council at risk of legal action, in case the aircraft [crashes] into someone or something," Naude said in his submission. 

Club vice-president Robbie Hellewell agreed he did see people flying machines they could not handle. 

One of the major safety risks was people sustaining injuries to their fingers if they tried to stop a model aeroplane in flight, or pick it up. Members of the aero club were insured against accidents, but he doubted non-members would be. 

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Naude said the aero club had its own elevated airfield at Redruth, which people could use to fly larger planes.

"It's not that they don't have options," Naude said. 

A council spokesman responded to Naude's submission, saying the issue of large model aeroplanes had rarely been raised locally.

"But clearly by its very nature is an activity that brings with it particular risks that may be mitigated by the creation of a bylaw.

"[The] submission will form part of the discussion with elected members following this pre-consultation phase of the review." 

The formal phase of the bylaw review begins at the end of September, with people encouraged to make formal submissions. 

 - The Timaru Herald

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