Laws And Rules Drone Pilots Need To Consider
Drone pilot operators in New Zealand share their airspace with other aircraft, so just like other aircraft, they need to know how to comply with airspace rules.
As well as understanding their obligations regarding airspace legality, drone AUV pilots must take into consideration the privacy and safety of people and property on the ground.
Under CAA’s 101 certificate, drone UAV pilots can operate under 400 feet AGL (above ground level) without airspace permission. Knowing what 400 feet is exactly and what part and permissions you need to operate under should you wish to fly higher than this can be a little tricky to determine unless you understand how to interpret parts 101 and 102 of CAA regulations.
If you are within 4km from an airport/aerodrome there are permissions &/or conditions you must adhere to. Untrained non-pilots more than often have no idea of where airport or control zone boundaries are, let alone all of the other rules they must adhere to. With a little bit of training, drone pilots can fly with confidence knowing they are not breaking airspace or risking collision with larger manned aircraft.
How CAA manages UAV aircraft:
As a drone operator – you are an aircraft operator (pilot). The new CAA rules mean that anyone wanting to operate a higher-risk UAV (outside basic rules such as daylight flight and under 400 feet above ground level) will need to engage with and be certificated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Anyone operating a UAV will only be issued with certification if they have satisfied CAA (or certified training organisation like ours) that the operator is aware of associated safety risks with a plan in place to mitigate those risks.
How long will it take to obtain certification for the use of UAVs? How much will certification cost?
This depends on the complexity of the proposed UAV operation. For example, a farmer wanting to fly a UAV at night (on their own property in a remote area) is likely to gain certification faster (and for less cost) than a business wanting to use one in a congested urban centre.
CAA is the govering body that is primarily responsible for enforcing the rules.
Members of the public who have concerns about UAVs can and may also contact the CAA on [email protected] or ph (04) 560 9480.
If they are at all concerned. Some people contact the police if they think a UAV is posing an immediate threat to people or property.
Every UAV operation, regardless of size, weight or performance of the unmanned aircraft are required to operate in compliance with all appropriate Civil Aviation Rules.
These rules change depending on your circumstances and what you are using your drone for.
For information on which rules will apply in particular circumstances you can visit: www.caa.govt.nz/rpas or www.airshare.co.nz portal to assist UAV RPAS, pilots including flight planning with Airways.
You can operate under Civil Aviation Rules, Part 101 without being certificated by the CAA.
Basic CAA 101 Rules:
Do not operate an aircraft that is 25 kg or heavier (or one that is 15 – 25 kg unless you’re a member of a CAA-approved organisation).
Always ensure the aircraft is safe to operate, and can return to home.
Take all practical steps to minimise hazards to people, property as well as other aircraft.
Fly only in daylight hours.
Give way to all manned aircraft.
You must be able at all times to see the aircraft with your own eyes – without the aid of a device such as binoculars, or cameras to ensure separation from other aircraft. In some cases you can use a spotter assistant.
You must not fly your aircraft higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level, unless you have approval from air traffic control.
Takes steps to ensure you have adequate knowledge of airspace and restrictions that may or can apply in the area you want to operate.
You may not fly closer than four kilometres from any aerodrome that is listed in the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). See Airshare website.
Obtain air traffic control clearance from Airways Corporation NZ before flying in controlled airspace.
Do not fly in special use airspace (such as military operating zones, restricted areas or low flying zones) without the permission of the controlling authority of the area.
Ask for and obtain consent from any person or private property you want to fly over.
Have consent of the owner or occupier of the property you want to fly above.
There are some exceptions, but in general if you cannot meet any of these requirements, your operation needs to be certificated under Part 102 – on the CAA web site.
As a part 101 operator you are adhering to the rules if you:
Have knowledge of airspace and restrictions for the area you are flying in.
Shielded operations are now allowed in controlled airspace. This means flying within 100 metres of and below the top of a natural or man-made object such as a tree, wall, bank or building.
First Person View Systems are now allowed, where you can use a spotter to report aircraft (drone) position to the pilot, but this person must be a trained and competent observer who maintains visual line of sight of of the aircraft and be in constant direct communication with the operator.
You must gain consent from people/property if you wish to fly above them or their property.
UAV’s and Airpace:
New Zealand airspace is divided up into many different classifications in order to help maintain appropriate levels of safety in particular areas. Every airspace has its own risks and subsequent safety requirements, especially in airspaces near aerodromes, or used by the military.
If you understand what type of airspace you are in, you are more likely to be aware of hazards that could affect the safety of your operation, and the other people you may be sharing airspace with. Airspace classifications are on the CAA web site.
You can find out more about specific areas by referring to the Aeronautical Information Publication.
Visual Navigation Charts (VNC’s) are maps overlaid with airspace, navigational and hazard information and can help you understand places you can fly and the conditions or circumstances for when you can fly. The charts are available from Airways’ AIP shop online.
If you wish to operate outside these rules or you trigger a part 102 certification requirement, you can talk to us about what you need to do to operate commercially, or outside part 101 rules.
Flying Your UAV in a public area?
You can fly in public areas providing you have the consent of the property owner and all people in the public area. For public spaces, the property owner is likely to be a local council or the Department of Conservation.
UAV operators can contact their local authority or the right government department to clarify requirements for flying UAVs over public spaces. Checking the relevant web site is a good place to start.
Operators should also keep an eye out for any signage in public areas related to flying of UAVs.
If you want to fly your drone over people or property, you will need consent from them to do so under Rule Part 101. Flying over a large group of people at a public event is likely to be regarded as a hazardous operation, which is outside the bounds of Rule Part 101.
You can still do this sort of thing, as long as your operation is approved under Part 102, which involves getting the Civil Aviation Authority to certificate your operation or approval from local or regional authorities.
Sometimes CAA will waive your need for consent, but it’s best to ask so you don’t breach any rules.
We run both 101 and 102 courses, the benefit of which are not only to ensure you are flying your drone within the legal rules and regulations, but also to ensure the preservation of your drone.
There are many cases of new drones begin lost or confiscated due to lack of knowledge and understanding of how to fly a drone, but also what the rules are.
Call us on 027 957 3860 to discuss your drone flying requirements. We can help you ascertain what you might or may not need to do to enjoy flying your drone safely and legally.