Industry News

How to Get Trained & Verified by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand

January 6, 2022

In 2021, we reached over 8,000 total users and 10 million+ acres mapped in the Asia-Pacific region – a monumental milestone. With usage increasing rapidly year over year and an expected boost in early 2022, we’ve created this handy guide that details how to obtain a Part 102 certificate for our customers in New Zealand, the site of our ground robotics office. Unlike its United States counterpart, the Part 107 license, the Part 102 certification is only required for what the Civil Aviation Authority deems a riskier flight. Please note that this will only apply to missions requiring operations outside of standard Part 101 rules, and will be approved on a case-by-case basis.


Do I need a Part 102 certification?

The first question one must ask themselves before applying for a Part 102 Unmanned Aircraft Operator (UAO) Certificate is, “Does my planned mission fall outside of Part 101 guidelines?” For most flights, the answer is likely no. Unlike many countries, New Zealand does not require a drone license to simply fly an unmanned aerial vehicle. However, all drone operators must comply with Part 101 unmanned aircraft rules, set up by the Civil Aviation Authority. Take a look at these regulations here.

In short, if your flight requires special permissions – such as operating a drone over 25 kilograms, flying at night, over conservation space, or within airspace restrictions, and/or traveling above 120 metres – you’ll need to apply for a Part 102 certificate.


How do I get a Part 102 UAO certificate?

The process for obtaining a UAO certificate is a tedious one – so much so that the New Zealand government actually recommends going through one of their approved training organisations! However, with proper preparation, you’ll be on track to earning your Part 102 certificate before the year is up.

The most difficult part for many companies is the exposition portion, as it unofficially requires prior aviation knowledge. In this section, you’ll need to detail how your operation goes outside of the given Part 101 rules, and the safety measures your company will take as a tradeoff for these changes. A full list of each pilot, physical location, and hazards expected should be listed here, as well as procedures in place for reporting, inflight operations, and ensuring hardware standards, to name a few. Be sure to provide as many details as possible to prevent further revisions or questions down the line. In addition, all pilots operating under this certificate will be required to complete proper CAA certification and pay the accompanying fees associated with their application. For a well-developed proposal, FLYUAV, one of the CAA’s verified training bodies, estimates that applicants should expect to pay between $2,500 - $3,500.

For more information on application guidelines and a full breakdown of requirements, click here.

What does a Part 102 certificate entail?

As one can see, considerable time and effort are required for application. Because of this, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons (including financial) before submission, and be prepared to answer supplemental questions from the Director assigned. Remember that these certificates are available only to sole traders and companies, not recreational pilots, and if approved, will not allow you to fly outside of the guidelines as described in your operations specification.

These certificates are available for no longer than 5 years, but can be renewed. Undoubtedly, a Part 102 Unmanned Aircraft Operator certificate signifies a level of quality, excellence, and adherence to rigorous standards that all drone programs strive for. We wish you the best of luck!

If you’re interested in learning more about the state of the drone industry, watch our free webinar.

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