Drone flies into Whangarei power lines, causes outage


A drone that flew into a power line sparked a power outage for 200 homes in Whangarei on Thursday.

The errant Unmanned Aerial Vehicle hit the lines on Kioreroa Road about 10am, which caused a 20 minute outage in the area, Northpower spokesman Steve MacMillan said.

MacMillan said it was believed to be the first drone-related accident to cause a power outage.

The lines company realised a drone was involved when a linesman called to the outage noticed something “unusual”, he said.

“The whole drone thing is probably a concern for any lines company because they can cause outages and put people in danger.

“From a safety perspective we are concerned. There are all sorts of complexities around drones.

“We’ve probably all been waiting for it.”

Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards said they have launched a safety investigation.

“We have been told there were several witnesses to the accident, which will undoubtedly assist the CAA’s investigators in the early stages of its enquiries,” he said.

“It is too early to speculate on what action CAA may or may not take until all the facts have been established and verified.”

Under the new RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) regulations, which came into force on August 1 for commercial operators, this was the first instance of this kind that has been reported to CAA, Richards said.

The new civil aviation rules mean anyone who wants to fly a UAV beyond what is allowed for traditional model aircraft — such as at night, beyond line of sight or above 400 feet (121.92 metres) — needs to apply for certification from the CAA.

 – Stuff