Thursday, 13 August 2015 12:52

Rules tighten on drone use

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Drones’ (UAV) rising popularity has pointed to an inevitable tightening of the rules for their use as they evolve from remote control helicopters to sophisticated work platforms – especially in farming.

This falls to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which until recently had in place Part 101 rules that gave guidelines for safe operation: a maximum operating ceiling of 400ft, flying only during daylight hours and within line of sight, and staying clear of other aircraft, people and property. 

There were also ‘no-fly’ zones such as military areas, schools or within 4km of airports.

As the uses of UAVs have expanded, new rules applied from August 1 to enable operators to move outside the remit of Part 101 while maintaining safety standards.

Part 102 requires operators be certified by the CAA and demonstrate they can identify potential hazards while operating, and maintain the highest safety standards achievable. 

The CAA will look case by case at each applicant’s request to operate outside Rule 101 as the requirements of, say, a Southland farmer wanting to fly over his property after dark will be totally different from a filmmaker wanting to fly over downtown Auckland during the day. 

The CAA also recommends talking to landowners about the right to fly over their property, always better with mutual agreement. But if it is not granted, a proposal under Part 102 can be looked at by the CAA.

Steve Moore, general manager aviation for the CAA, comments, “the new Part 102 rule will give operators a much greater freedom to fly their machines and ensure the highest standards of aviation are met”.


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