NZCAA Analysis could overstate variety of drones by 250 % – Drones Information


An independent analysis of research published by the Civil Aviation Authority shows that the number of drones and drone users may be significantly overrated.

On August 12, 2020, the Civil Aviation Authority released a report by market research firm Colmar Brunton claiming that New Zealand may have 15,322 drones in use for business or scientific purposes and 156,610 for recreational purposes. In an analysis published today, aviation consultancy Aviation Safety Management Systems Ltd. (ASMS) question the accuracy of these figures. Dr. Andrew Shelley, managing director of ASMS, said the analysis relied on the company’s own private dataset from commercial drone operators and was critical of the data and conclusions contained in the survey report.

Dr. Shelley stated that “the number of commercial drone operators identified in the survey report does not match the survey report’s own data”. He said that “using the survey report’s own data, the number of commercial drone users can be overstated by up to 337 percent.” Using the ASMS dataset, we estimate that the number of commercially deployed drones could be overestimated by up to 250 percent. “

Dr. Shelley asked, “If this is true for the number of commercial users and commercial drones, is the same level of overestimation for the number of recreational drone and recreational drone users?”

The ASMS analysis also shows that the survey report classifies the airspace as constrained and unconstrained. In the ASMS analysis, Dr. Shelley suggests that the term “restricted” was chosen to get good headlines that would set a political agenda.

Dr. Shelley also questioned the implicit bias in survey questions that were clearly designed to gain support for the Department of Transportation’s drone regulatory program. “The questions are intended to imply that the proposed interventions will be effective when there are in fact serious doubts about their effectiveness.”

“The importance of getting these numbers right is at the heart of the Department of Transportation’s drone regulation program,” said Dr. Shelley. “With drone users potentially being overrated by such a large factor, there is a significant risk that these inflated numbers will be used to warrant disproportionate policy interventions.”

In addition, Dr. Shelley notes that the survey report “lacks the basic data and analysis expected from robust analysis – there are no limits of error and no attempt to determine whether the results are statistically significant. This may not be important to the casual reader, but it is important if policy interventions are to be evidence-based. “

A copy of the ASMS analysis can be downloaded here.

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