News, Events and Culture

Getting a drone for Christmas? Read the rules before you fly

Wednesday December 23 2015

Photo shows black UAV flying in a grey cloudy sky.

Remotely piloted aircraft, drones, UAVs… no matter what you call them or where you fly them, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules apply.

"Drones are a lot of fun, but they're not a toy," says Council senior parks and property planner Aaron Phillips. "They're still an aircraft. Anyone flying one needs to understand and follow the rules.

"If you're lucky enough to find a drone under the tree this year, check out airshare.co.nz for everything you need to know before you can fly."

Airshare is New Zealand's UAV hub, where you can familiarise yourself with all the CAA rules, learn how to operate your drone safely, plan all your flights and request access to controlled airspace. It is run by Airways New Zealand, the authority responsible for managing the more than 1 million traffic movements a year into and around New Zealand's 30 million square kilometres of airspace.

The warning to fly safely comes as the Council releases a policy that gives people permission to fly drones in some Palmerston North parks and reserves, as long as all the rules are followed. Others are no fly zones.

"Summer is still ahead of us and we want to see people making the most of our public spaces," Mr Phillips says. "Most of our city's urban area, including parks and reserves, is in controlled airspace. However we believe some parks are suitable for low level flying under certain conditions.

"To find out which parks you can fly in and what rules apply to flying in parks, download the policy at pncc.govt.nz/drones or pick up a hard copy from the Customer Service Centre in the Square."

Airways New Zealand chief operating officer Pauline Lamb reiterated the message about being aware of the rules, such as logging flight paths and requesting permission to fly in controlled airspace.

"Since December last year we have received 6,473 flight requests on airshare.co.nz. Some 3,772 requests were to fly in controlled airspace. We suspect there are many more who may unwittingly be putting others at risk. We need all the lucky recipients of UAVs this Christmas to fly safely," she says.