Model airplane near miss with airliner

This article appeared in “The West Australian,” a while ago:

Australia’s safety watchdog has warned about the misuse of remotely controlled model planes and helicopters received as Christmas presents.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has outlined a set of regulations covering the operation of model planes to minimize risks to safety.

In 2009 CASA fined Shane Currie a resident of Perth Australia for flying his model plane within seconds of hitting a Virgin Blue Boeing 737 about to land at Perth Airport.

Mr Currie mounted a video camera on the plane and then posted the video on youtube.

The video, which was taken down by Mr Currie and then reposted by others has been seen over 400,000 times.

It shows the model plane twisting and turning and then a Virgin Blue 737 flashes past before the model plane turns to follow the jet and crashes after being hit by jet wash.

Mr Currie put the sound track of Top Gun on the video.

At the time a former CASA inspector said that this type of offence would have attracted a fine of $3000.

Flying a model plane within 5.5km of an airport or on an approach path is a Federal offence in Australia.

To see the video go tohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZEgeTFFFDY

CASA said that the regulations covering model planes are designed to protect people, property and other aircraft from injury or damage that could result from potential collisions.

“Penalties may apply if these regulations are broken,” a CASA spokesman said.

It says “the regulations are based on common sense and allow people to fly their model aircraft for recreation with no need for any approval.”

The regulations state that model planes must be kept more than 30 metres away from other people at all times as well as 30 metres from any buildings, cars or boats where people are present.

In addition model planes can only be operated in daylight within line of sight, not higher than 400 feet above ground level and well clear of airports and any other planes.

“It is good practice not to let your model aircraft get too far away from you,” CASA said.

“Operators must never fly their remotely controlled aircraft towards people, particularly during take-off and landing,” CASA said.

“Take-off and landing areas must be clear of people and obstacles and a watch should be kept for curious children.”

The regulator also warned that “if model planes are flown over other people’s homes or backyards it is recommended permission be obtained.”

“It is recommended model aircraft not be used above areas with lots of people such as beaches, sporting events and crowded parks,” CASA said.

“Care should be taken to stay away from power lines, trees, buildings and other structures that could lead to a mid-air collision which will damage a model plane.”

CASA also warned that if a collision with power lines occurs there should be “no attempt to rescue an aircraft.”

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