Industry and the public in New Zealand will soon get an opportunity to have their say on proposed civil aviation rules for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reports.
UAVs or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) are currently regulated by rules designed for model aircraft, the agency explains. Steve Moore, general manager of general aviation for the CAA, says most unmanned aircraft can fly faster, further and higher than traditional model aircraft. Therefore, they can be used for a much wider range of applications, including scientific research, film and video production, and agriculture.
“This can mean greater safety risks for airspace users, so it is important they get the chance to have input into their development,” he explains. “Ultimately, users will need to abide by the new rules, so it is important they get the chance to have input into their development.”
The CAA’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be issued on Dec. 4. Members of the public and industry can give feedback until Jan. 30, 2015.
The proposed rules are part of the CAA’s strategy to integrate unmanned aircraft into the aviation system, the agency says. “It is important that we put in place a comprehensive regulatory framework that is flexible enough to accommodate further growth over the long term,” Moore adds.
The proposed rules focus on the safety risks associated with high-performance unmanned aircraft, with operators of high-risk unmanned aircraft likely to require CAA certification.
“We want to make sure the new rules do not impose an undue regulatory burden on
operators and will seek feedback on this and other aspects during the consultation
period,” says Moore. “We want to make sure that recreational users can still operate in a low-risk environment, and will modify the existing rules so they can continue to do this where appropriate.”
The CAA says it currently receives up to 50 enquiries a week relating to unmanned aircraft. This compares to around 20-30 enquiries weekly at the beginning of the year, and the agency says the number is likely to increase with the growing popularity of the technology.
The CAA also notes that the number of aviation incidents involving unmanned aircraft has grown steadily since 2010. In 2014, it says, there have been 15 reported incidents.
The current rules for operating unmanned aircraft in New Zealand can be found here.