Flying in Controlled Airspace

At minimum, you are required to hold an RPAS Pilot qualification to Part 101 standard. You may also require further certification depending on the other activities you will be undertaking.

If you intend to fly either:

  • Within 4kms of an airport or heliport (unshielded) or
  • Within controlled airspace beyond 4kms of an airport or heliport (unshielded)

You are required to hold an RPAS Pilot qualification to Part 101 standard.

This qualification allows you to fly within 4kms of an airport/heliport (subject to your complying with standard procedures required by air traffic control and/or airport operators).

However, the holder of an RPAS qualification to Part 101 standard is NOT permitted to operate under the following conditions:

  • Operating in the hours of darkness (unless this is being carried out under a shielded operation)
  • Operating above 400 feet (120 meters) above ground level
  • flying over people without their permission
  • Flying over property without the permission of the landowner (incl roads and railways)
  • Applying liquid spray or pellets to pasture
  • Flying a drone with an unladen weight greater than 25kgs

These activities will require further certification.

Note: Before you operate your drone in public spaces like parks, reserves or Dept of Conservation land, you need to check with the local council or Dept of Conservation as they may impose their own restrictions over and above CAA rules.

As a drone operator, along with all other airspace users you have compliance obligations. There is no distinction between large commercial jet pilots, light plane pilots, or drone operators. In all cases you are required to comply with all laws and rules laid down by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Night Flying Note:

If you are considering flying your drone unshielded in the hours of darkness (or very low light conditions such as dawn and dusk), you must also hold a Night Rating. To achieve a night rating, pilots must also hold an RPAS Pilot Certificate to Part 102 standard as a minimum qualification.