February 21, 2020
Drones create amazing footage, but can be a dangerous way to get your video perfect
Drone footage creates amazing video, and is a favourite amongst directors who like to utilize sweeping dramatic landscape shots. However a recent case in New Zealand has highlighted a danger that many drone operators don’t seem to be aware of, whether they are amateur or professional, and it could change the way they use their drone.

A Canterbury based man avoided convictions when he used his drone to capture aerial footage of a forest fire. A fire fighting helicopter was in action in the area and while at no point was the drone any threat to the operation, the judge issued a small fine and ordered the defendant to pay a $500 donation to charity. The judge chose to use this instance to bring awareness over the restriction of drone usage, controlled airspaces and regulation. http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/82407940/no-flying-convictions-for-drone-pilot

While this was an unfortunate situation for the drone operator the case highlights the need for more education about drones and drone safety. It’s very likely that as awareness of drone regulation grows over time, the penalties when breaching them will grow as well!

So what can a video director and shooting team do to avoid endangering aircraft and stay within the law?*

  • Familiarise yourself with airspace zoning in the area you wish to shoot, don’t assume, always ask – contact your local council, civil aviation authority or airport for information.
  • Never go within 4 kilometres of an airport or aerodrome.
  • Always be able to sight your drone with your own eyes, do not allow it to be unobservable at any time.
  • Fly during clear, daylight hours only.
  • Ensure your drone is in good flight worthy condition.
  • Exercise common sense – avoid all other aircraft or situations where there is potential for other aircraft.

Don’t be afraid the use drone footage in your videos, breath-taking shots can be created from skilfull drone operating. Just be aware, plan ahead and then let your creative flag fly!

*this is a small sample of guidelines extracted from the civil aviation authority circular AC101-1, for full information please go to: www.caa.govt.nz/rules/ACs.htm#Part_101


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