Air New Zealand on its statement said that a drone came near within meters of a Boeing 777-200 flight descending into Auckland Airport from Tokyo on Sunday risking the life of 278 passengers and crew on board.
The flag carrier of New Zealand has called for prison terms for drone operators who puts the safety at risk.
The pilots of flight NZ92 spotted the drone about 16.4 feet from their aircraft at a point in their descent, reported the carrier.
The situation would be worse if the drone came nearer and sucked into an engine. “It’s clear the time has now come for tougher deterrents for reckless drone use around airports to safeguard travelers,” David Morgan, the airline’s chief operations and integrity standards officer, said in a statement.
The airline said it was the second example of reckless drone use this month, after an Air New Zealand pilot reported the presence of a drone within controlled airspace on March 6 at Auckland Airport. That incident prompted the airport to halt all flights for 30 minutes.
New Zealand fines the drone operators with up to 5000 NZ dollars in case of breaching the aviation rules. The civil aviation authority of the country informed that the government will execute new strict drone regulations.
“There is no excuse for anyone flying a drone near an airport without authorization or in the flight path of aircraft,” Graeme Harris, the director of civil aviation, said in a statement. “Such action is highly irresponsible and is the height of stupidity.”