Integrating drones into New Zealand’s aviation landscape

Drone use is expected to grow into a multi-billion dollar market globally over the next five to ten years. Over the next 25 years, it is estimated that the value of the economic benefit could be as high as $ 7.9 billion in New Zealand alone. In this newsletter we look at the latest update on drones from the Government.

In last month’s newsletter (available here) we wrote about the draft Civil Aviation Bill, and the Unmanned Aircraft Leadership Group that had been formed by the Ministry of Transport and other government agencies to undertake a programme of work relating to drone use. Last week, in connection with that work, the Ministry released the paper “Taking flight: an aviation system for the automated age”. The paper sets out the Government’s high-level objectives for integrating drones into the aviation system and wider transport sector.  The full paper is available to read here.

A draft of the paper was originally released in September 2018, and this paper is a re-release following feedback that was sought from stakeholders in the drone and aviation sectors.

The paper highlights New Zealand as a world leader in drone use, and attributes this to “our good reputation as a safety regulator, our ‘open for business’ mentality and our risk-based regulatory regime”. In order to retain these advantages the paper sates that New Zealand must harness the opportunities relating to drone development, while addressing the ongoing challenges.

The paper does not set out exactly how drones will be used and what rules and technological requirements will be applied. Instead it provides the sector with an understanding of Government’s role, and its priority of achieving the safe integration of drones.

It notes the areas in which drones are already being used around New Zealand, including as an inspection and surveying tool in a wide range of sectors. It also identifies a number of industries which will benefit from the greater use of drones, for example agricultural operations, where there is potential for drones to be used for the safe management of stock, pasture and crops, and at a lower cost.

The paper also notes challenges with drone use, in particular around safety, security (physical and cyber), privacy and enforcement.

The paper sets an interesting scene for the future use in New Zealand, whereby there is a practical and economic use for drones in every day life, and New Zealand is a destination of choice for drone business development and also for research and development work. The paper recognises that such a vision requires our regulatory system to be flexible, enforceable, proportionate, equitable, and consistent with relevant international standards and practices. As with all aviation regulation, safety is paramount and the paper recognises that restrictions in activity will be continue to be necessary to ensure safety and security is maintained.

At Lane Neave we have specialists in aviation and technology law.  If you need legal assistance with your drone project, please get in touch.

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Gerard DaleClaire EvansGraeme CrombieEvelyn JonesAnna RyanJoelle Grace,  Peter OrpinEllen SewellMatt TolanCarlo WanKristina SutherlandJacob NuttWhitney MooreAlex StoneBen Cooper, Lisa Catto

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