Rookie drone pilots warned to mind power lines

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An electricity safety boss has warned rookie Derry drone pilots to be careful not to injure themselves or others or cause major power cuts by accidentally crashing their new aircraft into power lines this Christmas.

Alex Wallace, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) Networks Safety Officer, issued the warning due to the increasing popularity of drones and quadcopters as Christmas presents.

“We have had incidents in the past where model aircraft and drones have come into contact with the network, causing power cuts,” said Mr Wallace.

“The new drones and quadcopters are very powerful and can fly at great speeds and heights. The range is such that they can be difficult to see, especially on duller or rainy days.

“If one of these drones was to strike an overhead power line or crash into a substation, it could cause major equipment damage and also injure those on the ground.

“If you get a drone for Christmas, we want you to enjoy it safely, so fly it where there is no risk of hitting overhead power lines or substations,” he added.

Mr Wallace said that there is a number to call if you do manage to have a drone aircraft accident.

He explained: “If you do lose control of your aircraft and it falls into a substation or brings down an overhead power line, stay well away and contact NIE Networks immediately on 03457 643 643.

“It’s not worth the risk to try to retrieve it yourself.”