Drone Safety

There is more to flying your remotely piloted aircraft (RPAS, UAV or drone) than you think! 

Useful resources

Please check the CAA RPAS website

In 2018 the CAA launched a new information site targeting recreational drone users and visitors to New Zealand as part of their education and awareness campaign for drone pilots. 

The new site is www.flyyourdrone.nz 


New Zealand Civil Aviation Rules Top Tips:

There are 12 key things that are required under Part 101 - you must:

  1. not operate an aircraft that is 25 kg or larger and always ensure that it is safe to operate

  2. at all times take all practicable steps to minimize hazards to persons, property and other aircraft (ie, don’t do anything hazardous)

  3. fly only in daylight

  4. give way to all crewed aircraft

  5. be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (eg, not through binoculars, a monitor, or smartphone) to ensure separation from other aircraft (or use an observer to do this in certain cases)

  6. not fly your aircraft higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level (unless certain conditions are met)

  7. have knowledge of airspace restrictions that apply in the area you want to operate

  8. not fly closer than four kilometres from any aerodrome (unless certain conditions are met)

  9. when flying in controlled airspace, obtain an air traffic control clearance issued by Airways (via airshare My Flights

  10. not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the controlling authority of the area (e.g. military operating areas or restricted areas)

  11. have consent from anyone you want to fly above

  12. have the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area you are wanting to fly above.

More Tips:

Make sure you have read and understood the relevant Civil Aviation Rules, especially Part 101 operating rules

  • If your operation is shielded (within 100m of a structure and below the height of the structure) and is also outside of an aerodrome boundary with a physical barrier between you and the aerodrome (capable of arresting flight) you can operate with no authorisation from Air Traffic Control or the aerodrome operator
  • Know how to read a Visual Navigation Chart (VNC). These can be purchased online. Your local Aero club, certified training instructor, or a friend who is a qualified pilot will be able to advise on how to read a VNC. 
  • Before you fly, check for all relevant airspace restrictions, e.g. controlled airspace, low flying zones, danger areas, restricted areas, and military operational areas
  • Know your responsibilities as pilot-in-command of an aircraft
  • Abort procedures must be in place in the event of a systems failure – know how your UAV will behave if a failure occurs
  • If you cannot see it – it is not safe to fly. Always remain within unaided visual line-of-sight of your aircraft, unless approved otherwise by the CAA
  • You must use the right radio frequencies, so they don't cause harmful interference to vital radio systems such as air traffic control, cellular phones, or emergency services. See the frequencies that are legal for RPAS in New Zealand and more info on the Radio Spectrum Management website.

Part 102 Certification

Part 102 is designed for higher-risk operators. It is extremely flexible, in that very few activities are specifically prohibited (other than carrying passengers, for example). Instead, certificates will be granted on a case-by-case basis, where the Director of Civil Aviation is satisfied that the operator has identified the risks associated with the intended operation(s) and has a plan in place to mitigate those risks. If an operator cannot comply with Part 101 this is a good signal that the operation may be higher risk and require certification.

Contact the CAA

If in doubt give the CAA a shout! Call them on 04 560 9400, or email info@caa.govt.nz