281,000 drone pilots in NZ, why so few incidents?

g'day and welcome to another talking head video where I try and have my say about regulations and the people who make them and we're this whole hobby is headed in terms of control and restriction and the things that we don't really like right New Zealand I want to talk about New Zealand New Zealand is the country where I live and the well like every other regulator our regulator says that there are a leading edge of UAS regulation they lead the world and they want to continue leading the world with innovative regulations and in some respects they're right I've got it they've done things like the shielded operation which is a brilliant idea that lets you fly a drone or model aircraft in close proximity to an airport so long as you are below the level of the trees or the tallest object within a hundred meters and in American terms it's about five eighths of an inch or something and as long as there's some kind of barrier so that if something goes wrong your model will not drift onto the runway and potentially endanger an aircraft right so it's brilliant it's a fantastic scheme other countries are now looking at taking that on board as part of the regulation it's great they they sort of drop the ball after it because there are regulations have all sorts of stupid things like there is no lower limit if I fold this piece of paper into a plane and throw it it's apparently as dangerous as a 14 kilogram off copter flown up in a over a busy street in downtown City so yeah anyway enough of that what what am I talking about today in terms of New Zealand regulation well our regulations will be up for review soon they've been out since 2015 so it's a over three years since they actually launched the regulations we currently fly under and it really is time for review and I know a lot of other countries are also reviewing their regulations the UK has recently reviewed these and headed the 400 foot fight for a height restriction and strangely enough put just a 1/4 exclusion zone around most controlled airports which is really really weird and that's nowhere near enough and certainly on the approaching departure paths on the sides it's heaps because planes don't fly low beside any Airport they fly low as they approach in to pass so yeah things to think about anyway what's concerned me what's prompted this video today is a couple a press release and a draft document that has come to circulation and I'm gonna talk about them a bit first I'm gonna talk about the press release now this is a press release made by Airways yeah Airways is part of the whole regulatory framework we have the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority they're the people who make the rules and Airways is the sort of the administrator of the airspace the other people who handle air traffic control and all the other bits and pieces that go into making the airspace safe from the point of view of a day-to-day management perspective so Airways are the people who sit in the tight towers and say you know flight 37 you're cleared for landing on runway 16 and what sort of stuff they are the day-to-day operators that the CAE people they just sit behind the desks and they say well people should do this and I should do that that's the distinction and then we have the Ministry of Transport here in New Zealand that's a government department which oversees all these other departments it's the department responsible for making sure that the transportation sector operates efficiently effectively and safely so they have the you know they're right at the top so what's happened initially is Airways the day-to-day management people issued a press release and when I saw this I could not believe the bull sorry the MIS information that was in the specifics I'm going to read a little bit from you now from before you know it says more than 10,000 drone pilots are now registered with Asia to fly in New Zealand airspace and what's Ischia well here is a site that CIA and Airways put up to try and get more information from the drone community and to try and encourage drone users to play by the rules and to register and all sorts of things it's kind of a voluntary thing it's it's see me it doesn't really know what it is to be honest but it's kind of a it's a hub they've got online hoping to create an interface with drone operators right so 10,000 New Zealand drone operators have signed up and they go on to say drone pilots have enthusiastically adopted air shear since its launch in December 2014 and thews e a Stickley that's fantastic so 10,000 people have signed up at air share voluntarily registered because it's not legally required to register if you fly drone in New Zealand you don't have to do that but these 10,000 people have voluntarily signed up enthusiastically so how does that tell you what the real figures well I'm going to turn now to a draft document released by the Ministry of Transport that's that government department right the top they recently said in this draft paper approximately two hundred and eighty-one thousand New Zealanders fly or own drones so let me just get this right maybe some middle-earth metic here we've got ten thousand out of two hundred and eighty-one thousand have signed up enthusiastically to the air share hub that is just over three and a half percent I'm sorry yes here but I don't see a three and a half percent sign up as enthusiastic I see it as pretty damn pitiful to be honest 3.5 percent seriously and so that sets the whole tone for this ish Airways press release it's obviously full of crap they are embellishing the facts I'm making stuff up they're using words that do not should not apply to the figures they're presenting anyway let's move along interestingly enough in the Ministry of Transport report they also go on to say well they say approximately two hundred eighty-one thousand New Zealanders own or fly unmanned aircraft drones in New Zealand versus five thousand piloted aircraft so in here five thousand registered aircraft New Zealand and yep two hundred and eighty one thousand people fly drones goodness me that means that the unmanned aviation community massively outnumbers the manned aviation community by huge chunk now to be fair they're comparing apples with oranges they're comparing the number of people who fly drones with the number of registered aircraft I suppose when you think about anyone who flopped most people who fly drones have their own you don't often go in for fire main strain you've usually got your own so and if you're looking at it this means probably two hundred thousand drones versus five thousand manned aircraft so hugely biased in favor of unmanned aircraft doesn't it so you would think you would think that when it came down to making the rules and consulting with the people to get an idea of what rules should be put in place that the larger group the larger group by a factor of 40 which is the unmanned aviation community should have a fairly proportionate say to what's done but no we hardly even consulted at all it all noise comes from the manned aviation community that tiny little percentage of people using the airspace anyway move along now the Ministry of Transport report also goes on to say there are approximately 130 commercial unmanned aerial vehicle operators certified by CIA say the figure gets even worse we've got just 130 registered drone operators certified drone operators in New Zealand versus 281,000 drone operators in total so the commercially certified group is a really really tiny fraction of the total drone community and yet those few people that are consulted with them the drug community are almost invariably the commercial operators they are the smallest group but they get the most say that doesn't make sense to me but let's move on now it says also this is really interesting didn't know this approximately 200,000 drones were used by tourists in the past year and again let me do the comparison there's 200,000 drones are used by tourists in the last year versus a total of 5,000 registered aircraft in this country so even even the Duras are outnumbering the manned aviation community by an enormous percentage they don't have any say have no say in what's well virtually no say practically no say you know we don't a good example as it was a survey held a while ago which some of you people participated here in New Zealand you weighed in after watching my video and gave your thoughts that survey the results were put online they're still online but obviously didn't the answers they got were not the answers they wanted so what did they do they ran another survey and where do they get the this survey was restricted pretty much to just people who use the issue website that 10,000 that three and a half percent of the total drone community were asked what do you think well that's hardly a representative sample is it because that's the sister group that only the group who were keen enough to go and register themselves they're probably the goody two-shoes you know the ones that the the teachers pits the one is all new gotta follow the rules good right although we love you not the average person in the street now something else to consider with these numbers is we've got 281 thousand people flying drones in New Zealand huge huge number of people flying drones in New Zealand and yet we see very very few drone incidents very few drone incidents we've had a cup you know we get we get the pilots always reporting our we saw her driving at 97 thousand feet and we're sure it was a Phantom 4 and the serial number was we I couldn't read the last number digit of the serial number but I'm sure it was a phantom that sort of crap we get a lot of that like everyone else does everywhere in the world pilots associations around the world appear to have adopted the policy of if you see something and you don't know what it was then reported as a drone because we're seeing that now only in the Daily Mail just today a pilot reported a drone at 15,000 feet and you know he was in a 15,000 feet your average passenger jets moving at a fairly lickity-split pace he was out identify it was a drone definitely a drone so and I don't know if mini store-bought drones that'll go that high yeah if you build a special-purpose but when we have those guys in Russia win to 30,000 feet but that was not your average store-bought drone your average phantom if 5,000 feet I don't know 6,000 15,000 no no no I really don't think someone will probably reply saying I took my phantom to 15,000 feet in which case we'll come and arrest you but yeah so we've got so few complaints remember this is there are 40 times more drones than registered aircraft New Zealand but there are not 40 times as many complaints in fact there are still more if you look at the air procs reports the the safety reports in the CIA website where they published them there are still more issues with manned aircraft nearly crashing into other manned aircraft then there are with drones crashing into manned aircraft it's still at numbers even though it should be 40 times more drone incidents than manned aviation incidents because that's the ratio of craft so you have to say based on these figures presented by the Ministry of Transport themselves drone flying is really really really really really safe compete demand aviation in terms of how well people behave themselves for example here is a story that came up the other way some guy buzz someone they didn't like on the beach using their mic right and I think they've got six months loss of license or something in a few thousand dollars fine this was durable this is if you did that with the drying can you imagine the story but this was just a little story tucked away on a news page somewhere if there had been a drying if so I'm gonna but deliberately buzz someone with the dried would have been all over the world's media you know drone used as weapon this guy uses a full-size unmanned aircraft and it gets Billy a mention so there we go and it happens there you go shows you that this sort of stuff is happening with me and aviation community they are some of them are just as bad or worse than drone operators and but as I say the thing is that 40 times the number of craft lists than the number of complaints we are so damn safe it is not funny everything is working very smoothly obviously there's nothing to complain about if you're getting such a tiny amount of problems from such a huge number of people operating drones but wouldn't you know it that doesn't stop some people from complaining now the Airways sorry the press release put my Airways let me quote from again this is the CEO Graham's summers this is what he had to say about the issue of drone registration remember drones have not been an issue and 10,000 people out of out of 281 so just three and a half percent think that registering your drone is such a good idea they're going to do it but he says we would like to see mandatory registration and training requirements for drone pilots implemented that's another word for forced upon you to make sure that all airspace users are able to continue to fly safely now listen to that there's so much in there by saying to make sure that all airspace users are able to continue flying safely clearly states that right now they're flying safely right you can't continue something if it's not already happening so he's admitting it's safe everyone's flying safely not a problem yet he wants to see mandatory registration and training why what if it's working do not fix it man this is just a way of you know just tightening up the screws you get the training isn't free registration might be free this is a great way to make money here waste makes a lot of money out of landing fees and air traffic management services they are looking for the coin and they see an opportunity or 291,000 people imagine if we build them all 50 bucks a year this is what's happening this is ridiculous this is another money grab and it's unacceptable now an Airways themselves surveyed fourteen hundred and sixty drone pilots and these were the pilots on each year the ones who decided to voluntarily register right the three point five percent rate they serve are these people and they say that six percent supported mandatory registration and training well as I said these are the goody-two-shoes guys these are the guys who want to register anyway even though it's not requirement and so they think everyone else should register too this survey is bullshit it is a self-selecting group and therefore the results I totally skewed and what about the two hundred and seventy-one thousand other drone users who don't appear in the survey where do they get their say these are the people who've said I don't want to register I see no point in registering it is no value to me and I'm flying safely it's confirmed by the fittest of the actual statistics so why would I register your Airways the company that makes the coin out of your space they want you to originate it's important to have you registered and trained yeah I'm sorry this sucks this sucks a this sucks a whole lot now the just to go on a bit more the paper from the Ministry of Transport talks about integration of drones into the National Airspace they have got it if that's what they're talking about then they've lost the plot – do you want to integrate drones into the airspace no you don't you don't you want to give drones the only piece of your space where there are no manned aircraft not but I can about this before just recently in my Thunderfoot video which got tagged as not suitable for all advertisers and therefore it wasn't promoted by YouTube therefore hardly anyone saw it Thank You pilots who did that anyway um yeah the just non integration is the secret to success keep the drones out of the navigable airspace and the Fatherhood footing above and you won't have any problems will you because if there's no drones and no aircraft in the same place at the same time there is no risk to anybody but no they want to integrate them then when it integrate them into the National Airspace you haven't identified the real problem if this is one of your solutions it you don't know what the problem is now let's make a point here make a distinction these people are probably talking about you know commercial large commercial drones you know the ones are going to deliver pizzas and small children to school and things like that that's not what people using drones for now that's not there may be the future in fact I don't think it's going to be as big as everybody says I see droning companies really well-funded commercial drone companies folding lifts right and center one folded just last week in the news and it was really well funded but they're not making any money because it is a solution looking for a problem because we even have these ear taxis right oh yes with these flying air taxis you'll be able to get on here and will fly is written a destination you can get off we already have those they called helicopters and we have heli pads and you already you can have jump on a helicopter fly to a destination jump off and if will you're flying along on your helicopter the engine stops you can also rotate to a pretty safe landing if you're flying along and a quadcopter and the engine stops well it's hope you're flying over a cemetery to reduce the transport cost for your burial no it's just it is ridiculous this whole industry has been hyped and blown out of proportion it is yeah we'll have people doing surveys and and taking pictures of houses for FIB real estate it's happening already but there's not high-risk operations there's not high risk you know phantom4 hovering over house isn't gonna kill anybody and if it's hovering over house low enough to get some good pictures it shouldn't be in the same airspace as a manned aircraft the risks are live we can keep that spacing up there and run all these small UAVs will these small drones quite happily so that's the situation in New Zealand we seem to have a bunch of cloth ears who know nothing who ignore the facts and numbers and we even disagree and we have obvious motives obvious affections and groups and commercial imperatives going on I've got Airways saying enthusiastic response with three and a half percent who've signed up for voluntary registration and on the basis of that they do a survey of those people who've already signed up and say yeah they're all in favor of registration of course they are they signed up to your bloody website Mexico you ask the other 371 thousands here you get on 207 1000 so yeah you get on I think you'd get a totally different result in effect as I mentioned earlier when CA I held its survey to which a lot of you replied they got a completely different answer so that's why Airways ran their own survey they didn't like the answer they got from the CIA survey so they thought we'll pick our respondents carefully and we'll get the results we want because they want you to register and pay them heaps money this will happen all over the world and it is happening all over the world which brings me to the next step what are we going to do about it I mean here in New Zealand there is no group that we've got model flying new zealand who represents model aircraft flyers and that's fine that's great but it's 2200 people out of 281,000 drone fliers it's not a very representative sit so I don't want to but I'm seriously thinking I may have to set up an organization to represent everybody else all the other people are not already affiliated with some like multiplying New Zealand those people who do not have a voice so well ignored the two hundred and eighty two hundred and seventy one thousand people who are flying so safely that although there are 40 times the number of manned pilots they are a tiny fraction of the complaints and the prosecutions by civil aviation the super-safe group the group who are doing everything properly who are looking out for people's safety and who were basically engaged in what is intrinsically a far safer pastime than flying with yourself in an airplane they need a voice they need a voice and do I have to give them one do I have to set up an organization to do that I don't know you tell me and what I'd like you to do also is pass if you're a New Zealand tell your friends about this video if they've got a drone not on interested in fly model aircraft tell all about this video because if they are keen enough I will set up a representative body and we will have a unified voice to civil aviation to ear ways and to the Ministry of Transport because if you don't do it if we don't do this as you can see not gonna get I'm not going to get any traction whatsoever although we're in the massive majority we're gonna be completely ignored and then that's not democracy that's not justice so tell me what you think that said what if this is drone Donna but anyway thank you for America very much for watching if you don't subscribe to this channel give it go sign up and see what you think you can always unsubscribe later and I do appreciate all the comments I get so give me your comments and I will read them all and have a chuckle and respond if necessary there you go thank you for watching this has been another one of my rant e talking kid videos and if you don't like it just skip it next time thanks for watching bye over there

The New Zealand Ministry of Transport has released a draft paper which states that there are at least 281,000 drone operators in this country but only 5,000 registered manned aircraft. Why then, are there so many more manned-aviation incidents than drone incidents? Doesn’t this *prove* that drone users are largely well behaved and law-abiding?

And isn’t it wonderfully clear that Airways is pushing for mandatory registration and training of drone pilots solely for the cash it would put in their pockets?

Links to material in this video:

– Microlite buzzes people on beach:

– Airliner misses drone at 15,000 feet:

– Airways press release:

– Airware drone company goes bust

– CAA New Zealand:

– Airways NZ:

– Airshare NZ:

– NZ Ministry of Transport:

30 comments on “281,000 drone pilots in NZ, why so few incidents?

  1. HoundDogMech

    FAR 91.119 (b)
    (b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft. I was told by the Scottsdale FSDO that an open air assembly of people could be as few as 2 people on a blanket having a picnic …

  2. HoundDogMech

    Here in the USA the FAA considers anything flown by Remote control a 'DRONE'. Well then I own over 60+ 'DRONES' but not ONE QUAD COPTER. Whist we need here in the USA is Special USE air space or Alert Areas around ever one of the 2400 + Registered AMA flying sights. This would a 1 mile in diameter and up to 3000' AGL and shown on all Sectional Charts. Just google FAR Part 91.119 (b)

  3. Dave Stephens

    Thanks Bruce, kind of agree we do need a voice. With due respects how does Airshare survey 281k pilots, who are these people ? You can not have a voice and a casual open free for all. So what do we want, registration and a voice, or a happy free for all and no voice. Got to agree with you on UAV safety. In the last 10 years I personally have flown 1000 hours on UAVs of many kinds.

    Incidents with GA, 1 ( where a helicopter landed on an active model flying park to take on passengers that was duly reported to CAA. )
    Accidents involving property damage 0.
    Accidents involving personal injury 0.
    Complains from members of the public about my personal flying activities 0

    That has not to say the 10 years has been incident free, we were kicked of a very nice park due to irresponsible behavior of 3 people resulting in health and safety incidents being logged with the local council. Drainage was being upgraded at the park and personal separation rules were not obscured.

    Here is a registration for your data base – Dave Stephens, [email protected]orcon.net.nz, 021868619

  4. Thump2010

    Why are they always called "Bird Strikes Airplane"????
    How is it the birds fault? they were flying around, minding their own business and then an airplane comes along and slams into it but it is not ever called "Airplane Strikes Bird".
    It kind of feels the same with the RC hobby, it is all our fault but yet it is never the full sized pilots fault for flying under 400ft where quads will be….. go figure.

  5. Tim Arnold

    So when is a drone not a drone? Is it 280,000 rc models or quadcopters? In the U.K. the recent consultation paper confused everybody by asking “do you fly drones or rc models?” Then went on to ask stupid questions like how many do you own now and how many will you own in 10 years?

  6. Aldo Allende Oliva

    Is legal to buy a drone but illegal to flight it. I don't get it.

    Wish mean companies can make money out people for something that we can use it. It should be illegal for a company to selling it also. Everything is about the money and we don't have voice on this democracy. I'm sorry I shouldn't say what I think

  7. ICrashALot

    I participated in a meeting where different aviation sports representatives were discussing about creating better security culture and management system. I was shocked when ultralights representative started with: "it has been a pretty good progress, we haven't any deaths in three years". And we are the ones who need to improve safety?!

  8. Joe Mathieson

    Bruce, hi again! Sorry to bother you again, and again some great points – just a little bit of reasoning here from a manned pilots perspective.

    Yes, there are 280 000 something drones in New Zealand. That's all well and good. But to compare this to 5000 fixed wing aircraft is kind of like comparing the number of cars in New Zealand to the number of 18 wheeler trucks, if that makes sense. They drive on the same roads, but they don't do the same job, and don't cost the same – and it takes a huge amount more training to drive a truck than a car. If that makes sense! (Average cost price comes into it too – drone, 1-5k, fixed wing aircraft, 20k plus for anything in the GA category).

    In terms of the incident reports, I put a large percentage of this down to the framework of reporting. Again, as you say in your video, you're comparing apples to oranges. If I'm honest, I watch your videos, and assuming you were to use the same framework, there's probably a dozen of safety reports on each video. But do you file a CA005 on yourself? I'm not saying you should – I just want to make you are aware that there is a different framework applicable, especially in the commercial aviation world, which is a large contributor to the higher ratio of reports in fixed wing as opposed to RC flying.

    Bruce, I'm sorry but I also strongly disagree with your comments around Airshare. It's a good platform, that helps to lessen the division between Pilots and Drone Pilots. It's a great resource for those who may be less familiar with airspace/local areas to use, to ensure they aren't operating in a no fly area – and if they want to, to provide the contact details for operators they need to contact for permission to fly.

    It is great to see your passion for the subject Bruce – yes, while I don't agree with your points in certain areas, I think people voicing their opinions is the only way we can progress! It's obvious you put a lot of time into your videos, makes them great to watch. Good stuff!

  9. Thomas Wilding

    We do need a unified voice. Someone to speak up when paper bags get called drones. Also to add to the criticism when a quadcopter flyer does something stupid. And somebody has to challenge CAA over requiring property permission – they don't have any statutory power regarding property access.
    I use airshare – I fly for work and we do things by the book. I don't fear registration for bigger craft (e.g. >1kg). But I do see lots of commercial drone operators trying to talk up the importance of part 102 certification. So you very quickly establish a group of commercial drone pilots with a vested interest in making it as difficult as possible for other drone pilots to fly, and compete for jobs.

  10. Simon Jones

    Sir Bruce. Another in your stream of videos that I quietly watch with rare comments. Whilst I am reluctant to suggest anything that might add work to others, is there any merit in setting up a world wide group? I can't begin to imagine the logistics. But a voice of those around the globe might carry more weight than any lone country could, and I'm watching you from Cornwall UK so your reach is very global. To my mind you speak a lot of sense and the figures tell a more honest story than the hype. For that reason I can only assume there are thousands like me who appreciate the common (unfortunately not so common) sense approach that looks at the real world. If I picked this out right, statistically a full sized pilot (with all their training and red tape) is 40 times more likely to be the cause of an in air incident than drone pilot is with the structure of guidance and good practice.

  11. doigal12345

    Good to see the University of Dayton is jumping on the sensationalist bandwagon. :rolleyes


    Rather than concentrate on the ZOMG DRONEZ CAN KILLZ lets pull it apart and look at the facts:
    The 2.1 lbs drone is fired at 238 MPH.
    The wing is donated from a Mooney M20. Later versions of this plane have Vne speeds of 225MPH, but almost all older ones are 183mph, so the test is at an extremely high speed.
    Mooney M20's fall under CS-23, which has no airframe requirement for bird strikes. (Windshield requirement is 900g at max approach speed).

    So a wing, thats never designed for bird strikes, hits a drone at a closing speed well above Vne and exactly midspan between the ribs, and doesn't disintegrate.
    Sure – its badly damaged and will be a write off, but probably ok for getting down. Well overblown risk.

  12. glenby2u

    without drone pilots forming a lobby/group, how can the government approach effectively?
    Without a pilots association, the stats cant be used. governments cannot talk to individuals effectively.
    The CAA by publishing these figures is actually softening its approach to drones and encouraging discussion. praise them for it.

  13. MAsonTRIX

    I am a bit confused, how are drones linked to model aircraft? Drones are fly by computer video and model aircraft are line of sight. One is cool and for leisure. The other is just for fools.


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