Three drone incidents reported

The Civil Aviation Authority is investigating after an Air New Zealand pilot reported seeing a drone pass in front of a passenger jet approaching Queenstown.

The incident was one of three in the past week being investigated.

A drone was reported in Queenstown Airport airspace twice in four days, while another drone was spotted in NZONE Skydive's parachute drop zone on Monday morning.

A CAA spokeswoman confirmed they were notified and will be investigating all three incidents.

It comes as figures show the number of complaints about drone use in Queenstown by October this year had already exceeded complaints from the previous three years combined.

Last Thursday at 4.40pm, the pilot of an Air New Zealand plane arriving into Queenstown reported seeing a drone at about 3000 feet, less than 4km from the airport.

The pilot reported seeing the drone pass in front of the plane.

Airspace was closed for 15 minutes but no other flights were delayed.

An almost identical incident occurred on Sunday at 9.45am, with a pilot reporting a drone flying at 1000 feet, less than 4km from the airport.

Airspace was once again closed for 15 minutes.

The next morning a drone was seen flying at about 1000 feet within the NZONE parachute drop zone near Jacks Point at 11.30am.

Airways air traffic services general manager Tim Boyle slammed the incidents, saying they were continuing to see a ''worrying number of drones operating illegally in airspace near airports throughout New Zealand''.

''Three events in such a short space of time in Queenstown is concerning.''

According to the CAA, there had been 21 complaints about drones in Queenstown by October this year.

There were 15 in 2017, four in 2016, and two in 2015.

NZONE Skydive general manager Clark Scott said Monday's incident was only the second he was aware of since the business started operating in Queenstown.

''If and when we ever see or know of a drone operating in our area, we alert the authorities immediately and assist them in any way we can to apprehend the individual,'' he said.

Drones pose a risk, and operators should contact the CAA to make sure they understand all of the rules and regulations, he said.

In February, Chilean tourist Jorge Eduardo Riquelme Cruz was convicted on one charge of operating an unmanned drone in a manner that caused unnecessary danger, after illegally flying a drone near firefighting helicopters battling a blaze on Mt Alpha, near Wanaka.

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