New Zealand invites feedback on new drone regulatory regime to enable safe integration of drones

New Zealand’s Ministry of Transport is seeking feedback on its proposal to enhance the country’s drone regulatory regime and enable the integration of drones into the civil aviation system.

Submissions are requested by 21 May 2021.

The Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have been working together to come up with ways to keep up with changing technology, best practices while maintaining safety and security of people and property, both in the air and on the ground. The agency has four objectives:

  • To encourage people to use drones safely and securely and to be accountable if they use them irresponsibly
  • To get the most out of drones and use them in exciting and innovative ways
  • Lay the foundation for drones to become a familiar feature of the transport system
  • People of New Zealand to feel confident that drones are being used responsibly in their communities and accept them in their day-to-day lives.

The Ministry proposes to introduce a series of regulatory measures that together will enable the integration of drones into the aviation system. This series of measures include:

  • Rules updates: to make the Rules clearer, fairer and future focused. Major Rules updates would only occur if the series of regulatory measures is implemented. These include a standalone Rule Part that would cover rules for remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) rather than the current Part 101 Rule that also include other categories of unmanned aircraft like rockets; the removal or relaxation of needing consent to fly over people or private property; and reviewing the minimum flight distance from aerodromes currently set at four kilometres. Minor Rules updates would introduce definitions and clarify Rules where needed.
  • Basic pilot qualification: to improve knowledge and awareness of rules. Upon gaining a basic pilot qualification, you can fly a drone under Part 101, supervise drone operation by an unqualified person (if you are 16 years and over) and fly drones up to 25kg. The test would be simple and completed online, with no minimum age.
  • Drone registration: to be able to identify drones and their owners in order to ensure that important information can be communicated to operators, and improve enforcement. Drone weighing 250 grams or over would have to be registered. This would apply to individuals who are 14 years and over, and businesses or organisations. Registration would be online and user friendly, issuing a unique number to be displayed on the drone.

Following implementation of this first set of measures, the Ministry intends to consider addition measures relating to remote identification and geo-awareness.

Deadline for submissions: 21 May 2021

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