Civil Aviation Authority Investigation Finally Over

Hamilton Drone operator

It’s been over a year now since my ‘incident’ (flying a drone at night) came up, but now I’ve finally been issued with a warming letter.

The Waikato Times newspaper have published several articles (this one is my favourite, thanks a bunch Waikato Times, love you long time*) about this incident and the investigation that has been carried out by the CAA. The guys at the CAA have told me that the Waikato Times are regularly checking in with CAA to see how my investigation is coming along and they’ve told me they would be forwarding a conclusion of this investigation to the C grade newspaper.

For the record, because I know how much time the Waikato Times spends on making sure their facts are correct, here is the exact wording that the CAA are sending the Waikato Times later this week…

The Civil Aviation Authority has concluded its investigation into an allegation that Adam Paul Crouchley breached Civil Aviation Rules for the safe operation of an unmanned aircraft.

The investigation determined Mr Crouchley breached Civil Aviation Rule 101.11 [Controlled airspace] and Civil Aviation Rule 115.223 [Night operations] between 17 and 28 February 2014 when operating an unmanned aircraft in central Hamilton.

The CAA issued Mr Crouchley a formal warning letter. The penalties for unmanned aircraft operations that breach CAA rules include a fine, written warning or prosecution by the CAA. A written warning is consistent with CAA enforcement policy for similar breaches at this time.

After taking into account Mr Crouchley’s co-operation in the matter, the CAA determined a written warning was the most appropriate course of action. During the investigation Mr Crouchley offered to assist the CAA in educating the public about safe unmanned aircraft operation.

CAA’s General Manager of General Aviation Steve Moore says it is important that members of the public are aware that unmanned aircraft can be a safety hazard for aircraft and people and property.

“We understand that many unmanned aircraft operators are not aware they are subject to Civil Aviation Rules.  We want the public to know that just like other pilots they must abide by the rules.

“I encourage anyone who is thinking about buying an unmanned aircraft to make sure they are aware of the rules before they fly. These are available on the CAA website or at”

Unmanned aircraft are also known as drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.

The exact number of unmanned aircraft operations in New Zealand is unknown but small compared to conventional aircraft.

The Civil Aviation Authority receives up to 50 enquiries a week relating to unmanned aircraft. This compares to around 20-30 enquiries weekly at the beginning of 2014, and the CAA says the number is likely to increase with the growing popularity of unmanned aircraft

The number of aviation incidents involving unmanned aircraft has grown steadily since 2010.

Question this for a second…

What if I was a terrible person. What if I WAS doing terrible things with my drone. What if I was really unsafe with my UAV? I would of still been flying for the last 13 months without a verdict and I could of caused a whole lot of damage in that 13 months.

Why did this investigation take so long? Does every CAA investigation take so long? Are there lots of dangerous operators flying around that are currently under investigation? What about aircraft pilots, who are managed by exactly the same organisation and exactly the same investigation team??

How can they then go and hand this information over to the local newspaper for them to drag my business into the limelight again? Why do the CAA send all the bad news to the newspapers, why don’t they send good helpful information to them? Why don’t the CAA team up with the Waikato Times and write something that actually help drone operators and the public in general?

I’ve offered to help the CAA and the Waikato Times with their publicity around drone use in New Zealand, both recreationally and commercially, but it seems all they both want is bad publicity.

Airways (nothing to do with CAA) have setup a really helpful website called Airshare. If you’re a drone operator, or thinking of getting into flying, check out the rules and the maps on

Hamilton Drone operator

* I don’t love the Waikato Times at all.