Airways’ chief executive has welcomed the New Zealand Government’s move to update the rules governing the use of unmanned aircraft, predicting rapid growth in commercial applications of the new technology.
The new Civil Aviation Rules require certification of operators who want to use unmanned aircraft in situations not currently catered for under Rule Part 101, supporting the industry’s predicted growth.
Speaking at the CAA’s Rule Part 102 launch today, chief executive Ed Sims outlined Airways’ support for a flexible regulatory regime surrounding the use of remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicles, known as UAVs or ‘drones’.
“UAVs are in our airspace now, in rapidly increasing numbers, sparking a rethink of airspace operations to cater for these increasingly sophisticated aircraft,” he says.
“Commercial use of UAVs opens up opportunities across a range of industries. At Airways, safe airspace is our priority so we want to encourage operators to be aware of their responsibilities.”
Sims says that Airways has been proactively working with industry users in New Zealand to enable the shared use of airspace by UAV operators.
“We would like to congratulate the many commercial operators who have paved the way for these rules to be developed. They have self-regulated and adopted the few pre-existing rules available,” he says.
“For the most part, the requests we receive to fly UAVs in controlled airspace are reasonable, and we take a cautious ‘yes’ approach to enabling these operations in the safest possible environment. Our safety focus, however, is the burgeoning recreational use of drones, often by people with little understanding of their aviation responsibilities.
“The Minister of Transport and the CAA have successfully created these new rules in consultation with the industry. Together, through our online portal airshare, we’re making sure that people have easy access to all the information they need to share the airspace safely.”
Airways has developed the website airshare.co.nz in conjunction with the CAA, Callaghan Innovation and industry group UAVNZ, to help UAV owners and operators understand their safety responsibilities as they fly their aircraft. Airshare provides information on how to operate UAVs safely, log flights, request access to controlled airspace, and view dynamic airspace maps.
It is widely used by UAV businesses and recreational flyers, with over 1,000 registrations since the service launched in 2014.
“Thanks to the flexibility and supportive nature of our regulatory authority, we believe the industry will continue to develop innovative ways of utilising drone services, while also enabling people to enjoy flying their recreational UAV,” says Sims.
The new Civil Aviation Rules come into effect in New Zealand on 1 August.