Civil Aviation Authority v Pitman [2021] NZDC 3157

Published 08 September 2021

Sentencing — operating a drone in a manner causing unnecessary endangerment — failing to give way to and keep clear of a manned aircraft — midair collision — discharge without conviction — Civil Aviation Act 1990, s 44 — Sentencing Act 2002, ss 106 & 107 — Civil Aviation Rule 101.213(a). The defendant appeared for sentence on charges of operating a drone in a manner causing unnecessary endangerment, and while operating a drone failing to give way to and keep clear of a manned aircraft. He had been flying a drone at a beach popular with paragliders. The defendant failed to take sufficient care while doing so, and caused a midair collision with one of the paragliders. The pilot of the paraglider managed to land without injury. The defendant applied for a discharge without conviction, arguing that a conviction would threaten his career prospects, travel plans and mental health. The Court considered that none of these factors warranted granting a discharge without conviction, and declined the application. The start point for sentence was a fine of $2000. With discounts for previous good character, remorse and future prospects, the final amount of fine was $1000. Judgment Date: 18 February 2021