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APRIL 2022

On 6 April 2021, Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport (the Ministry) released the discussion document ‘Enabling Drone Integration’ and began an eight-week period of formal engagement. The consultation closed on 4 June 2021. 

The Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sought feedback on a proposed approach to enhance the regulatory regime applicable to drones and enable their integration into the New Zealand civil aviation system.

The proposal contained five measures:

  • Civil Aviation Rules (the Rules) updates: making changes to the Rules to make them clearer, fairer and future focused.
  • Basic pilot qualification: introducing a basic test for Part 101 drone pilots to improve their knowledge and awareness of the Rules.
  • Drone registration: mandating registration for drones weighing 250 grams and their owners, to enable identification, ensure that important information can be communicated to operators, and improve enforcement.
  • Remote identification: mandating the use of remote identification capability on certain drones during flight that enables the transmission of aircraft identification information to third parties to improve situational awareness and enforcement.
  • Geo-awareness: creating an official digital map and mandating the use of geo-awareness capability for certain drones, to make it easier for operators to know where they can and cannot fly to improve their situational awareness and help protect sensitive sites and infrastructures.

During the period of consultation, the Ministry and CAA held a series of public events in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, and Queenstown, and engaged with local government and key stakeholders.

A total of 284 submissions were received by the Ministry, from individuals, companies, government agencies, local councils, and others.

There was overall support for the proposed series of measures, with some changes proposed and some concerns raised.

Many believed that the proposed series of measures would help achieve the objectives and welcome the initiative as timely. Submitters were also appreciative of the opportunity to engage and be heard and wish to engage further with the regulatory process.

We noticed some recurrent themes and questions were  raised on the concept of ‘drone integration’, what Government meant when using this term; the implementation of the measures and associated costs on operators or other aviation participants; the enforcement framework and means to ensure that operators are held to account; and the use of the word ‘drone’.

The Ministry also received alternative approaches to the proposals, such as the inclusion on a proposed middle tier or category of operations based on risk that would provide a more balanced approach between Rule Part 101 and 102. 

The Ministry finalised the post-consultation process end of 2021 and is currently waiting for Cabinet to consider the final policy recommendations.

For more information on the consultation and ongoing work related to drones, please visit the Ministry website, using the following link: Drones in New Zealand | Ministry of Transport(external link).