Drone app a useful tool in aircraft safety
The popularity of drones in the Taupo District has led to the Taupo Airport Authority developing a mobile app to assist drone users when operating within four kilometres of an aerodrome.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules state drone operators wanting to fly higher than the height of a structure or tree must have a valid pilot's qualification or be under the supervision of someone who does. Other restrictions mean drones cannot be operated within four kilometres of an aerodrome unless certain conditions are met, such as gaining permission from the aerodrome operator.
In the Taupo District there are six aerodromes - Taupo Airport, Lake Taupo, Taupo Hospital helipad, Centennial Park Aerodrome, Heli Adventure helipad in Wairakei Tourist Park and Turangi Aerodrome - meaning permission must be gained before flying drones within four kilometres of these locations.
Permission must be granted from all property owners prior to flying a drone over the property, and operators are also required to obtain a permit from Taupo District Council prior to operating a drone above council land, including reserves.
Taupo Airport Authority manager Mike Groome said to make it easier to find out who to contact to get permission to fly drones, the authority had created Taupo Drone, a mobile app with maps and contact details for aerodromes.
"The Taupo District is an interesting area because so much of it is considered a no-fly zone for drones. Many people don't realise the whole of Lake Taupo is considered an aerodrome, or that other aircraft landing sites are restricted for flying drones.
"The Taupo Drone app helps people to comply with all appropriate CAA rules and to know which zone they are in and then allows them to easily contact the responsible aerodrome operator before launching their drone."
Mr Groome said while drone safety fell under the responsibility of the CAA, the Taupo Airport Authority wanted to help educate the public on drone operating rules for the safety of the whole community.
"Drones can be very difficult for airplane pilots to see, and if an aircraft was to hit a drone the result could be catastrophic," he said. "We wanted to do our bit to let drone operators know where it's safe to fly their drone to keep everyone as safe as possible."
To download the Taupo Drone app, search for it in Apple's App Store or on Google Play. To apply for a permit to fly over council land, go to our drones page.