Eyes in the Sky: Coastguard Sumner trials drones for search and rescue

Sumner, June 14, 2024 - We are dedicated to exploring new and better ways to improve our search and rescue capabilities. Reflecting this commitment, Coastguard Sumner is working with drone expert Daniel Manchester from Proform Group and Canterbury Air Patrol to test eight different drones in real rescue situations. The idea came from a meeting with Coastguard Canterbury, where they talked about the potential of using technology to enhance search and rescue efforts. 

Anthony Honeybone, the Search and Rescue Manager at Coastguard Sumner, talked about their commitment to using new technology to save lives on the water. "The success rate in finding someone alive often depends on how quickly we can respond. Using drones for search and rescue operations offers major advantages over traditional search methods, providing speed and accuracy that are crucial in emergency situations," he told Star News.

In recent tests, drones flew over Scarborough to create detailed 3D terrain maps and locate mock victims. The results were impressive, showing drones can be real game changers.  

  • Some of the key features of drones include:
    Thermal imaging technology which can quickly detect heat sources, helping the crew locate people at any given location.
  • 3D mapping can help the crew in navigating challenging landscapes and locating people accurately, even in the dark. 
  • Drones reduce search time, which is crucial in situations where every second counts.  

The trials will continue for the next few months, and six operators will be trained and qualified by the Civil Aviation Authority.  

With these advancements, Coastguard Sumner is not only enhancing their operational capabilities but also setting a new standard for search and rescue operations.  

Awesome effort by everyone involved! 

Check out some amazing shots from Coastguard Sumner here


For more information, contact: 
Ben Parsons 
Coastguard Tautiaki Moana Senior Communications Advisor 
[email protected]

Thanks to our life-saving partners:
  • Auckland Council
  • Northland Regional Council
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • Hutchwilco
  • Marine Deals
  • Tower
  • Kordia
  • Hyundai
  • Line7
  • Century Batteries
  • Half Moon Bay
  • NZCT
  • Lotteries Grants Board
  • Lion Foundation
  • Pub Charity