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Drones - know the rules before you buy and fly

Know the rules before you buy and fly

By Trade Me 5 February 2021

What you need to know to safety own and operate a drone

At Trade Me we don’t like to hover over your shoulder and drone on about rules and regulations, but you may want to have a look at the new regulations for operating drones if you’re considering selling them or making a purchase. 

For sellers

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) released a new recommendation that all advertisements for drones include the following:

“In operating these drones you become a pilot with responsibilities and must comply with the rules found at:”

We recommend all sellers include this line in their listings for RPAS, UAV, UAS and model aircraft.

For more information on the ASA, you can visit their website.

For buyers

What are the rules?

On 1 August 2015, new regulations came into force surrounding the operation of drones, also known as remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and model aircraft.

The rules also cover most other things you may want to launch into the air including rockets, balloons, kites, gyrogliders, parasails etc.

Before you purchase and operate a drone, please ensure you familiarise yourself with general aviation safety rules and applicable radio communication regulations. 

Once you’re sorted, you’ll also want to check out a couple of specific provisions regarding the operation of drones, located in Rule Part 101 and Rule Part 102 of the Civil Aviation Rules.

To save you some time, we’ve grabbed the important bits for you below.

Rule Part 101

This part sets out key rules beyond the typical air safety requirements to follow when operating your drone:

  • You must always operate your drone safely, and take practicable steps to minimise hazards against people or property. You should know the airspace restrictions where you plan to fly your drone.
  • You must gain the consent of people you are flying over, as well as the consent of any property owners of the area. Though not explicitly in the CAA rules, you should keep an eye out for privacy expectations of people who may also be affected by your flight operation.
  • You can only fly during the daytime unless the flight is indoors or a shielded operation.
  • You need to be able to see your drone with your own eyes, in so you can avoid obstructions and bad weather conditions.
  • Always give way to crewed aircraft.
  • The maximum height you can fly is 120 m above ground level.
  • You must keep your drone at least 4 km away from any aerodrome and obtain permission from the controlling authority over any controlled airspace, special use airspace, or airspace that may be temporarily classified as one of these areas for a particular operation or event.
  • Your drone must be under 25 kg, otherwise you’ll need permission as per Rule Part 102.
  • If your drone is between 15–25 kg, there’s an additional requirement that it is constructed or inspected by a person or body approved by the Director of Civil Aviation.
  • The drone must be approved and operated under approved authority.

There are exceptions to a few of these rules, which you can check out on the CAA links below.

Rule Part 102

This rule applies to you if you plan to operate outside the regulations of Rule Part 101. You can request special certification to operate your RPAS with approval from the CAA.

If you’d like more in-depth details on the new RPAS rules, please check out the CAA’s report.

You can also download a PDF of the rules: Rule Part 101 and Rule Part 102.

Creative Commons image used courtesy Ted Eytan on Flickr.  


Trade Me
Trade Me

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