We have a lot of drones in our country. Operators vary from recreational users, to photographers and marketing operators. As well as a lot of industrial operators in construction and agriculture. Many media based content creators are flying drones. We are flooded with reels and content on social media, driven by a few influencers that get amazing footage in stunning locations. If you just got a drone, or are operating one without doing your homework, PLEASE READ THIS.

As an operator that has invested in the industry, it’s concerning to see so much content posted by operators that are blatantly unaware, ill informed or oblivious to the rules. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time till a signDrone operationsificant event occurs as a result of an unsafe drone operation. I am a certificated operator. What does that mean? Am I licensed?

Absolutely not, NO-ONE has a drone pilot licence in NZ. Does not exist. There are none despite what some people report on their bio’s. CAA do not licence a drone pilot. They CERTIFICATE operators whom have undergone an industry training program,  and passed a theory exam and a competency flight assessment. This OCA or Occupational Competency Assessment is conducted to ensure the pilot has full capability to operate the aircraft in a safe method. These are conducted annually for each CERTIFICATED pilot. It’s not a licence, it’s an acknowledgement that you have generally good pilot skills, and can operate the aircraft in a structured and directed way.

CAA Part 102

On top of that there is the PART 102 exposition. This document details the variations to Part 101 that the holder can fly operations.  This allows an institution to operate their drones in a specific way, in a commercial situation. Part 102 expositions are held by an entity, NOT an individual. The exposition details the procedures to operate outside CAA Part 101 rules. In order to achieve these variations, the entity will need to demonstrate the risk mitigation process for that operation, and the skills required to undertake those operations.

The exposition I fly under allows me to fly over property WITHOUT owner consent, providing I have identified and mitigated risk. I can also fly at night as I have completed the necessary operational requirements. All this comes at a compliance cost. A lot of compliance. This means that with my certification, I assume the liability for any breech of CAA rules.


Under Part 101, which is what you will fly under, you cannot fly over property WITHOUT consent, and you cannot fly at night. (Outside of shielded above YOUR property), and you cannot fly over crowds. To define property can be a challenging area, and one that gets the most confusion. Residential and commercial property can usually be easily defined. But everything outside of that, not so much. For example roads. It’s still property, and you still need permission to fly over it. Who is the governing body? That’s where you need to be aware, and that’s your responsibility to find out. It’s also part of the risk mitigation process. You will be able to find council areas that are drone friendly on their websites.


Air-share will give you an indication of the airspace and the ability to make a flight in controlled airspace. This does NOT give permission to fly outside of Part 101. So logging your flight is good practice, but it’s the start of your compliance needs, not the end. Just because you have logged your flight, the rules still apply, you have not achieved anything other than notifying the local airport of your operation. There is a lot more needs to be done when you are in controlled airspace.

Got a drone, read this

So if you have a drone, and you are not sure what you can do, or find it hard to relate the regulations, firstly, take the time to do some learning. Consequently, if you are in the Manawatu, and want some help, reach out as I will gladly help anyone that wants to make this part of Aviation a safe and respected option.

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