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Drone operator discharged, fined

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/07/2016

A drone operator has been discharged without conviction and told to make a charitable donation in the first prosecution in New Zealand of its type.

Simon Reeve operated a drone at Kaiapoi on January 5 in a controlled zone near a helicopter fighting a fire at Pines Beach.

Earlier Christchurch District Court Judge Gary MacAskill found Reeve guilty on three charges.

On Friday he sentenced him to pay $500 to a charity on the charge of unnecessary endangerment and $250 for each of two other charges of flying a drone in a controlled airspace without permission.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which took the prosecution, says it respects the decision of the court and considers any penalty is a clear signal to drone operators that they need to follow safety rules.

The case is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

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