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Flying Remotely Piloted Aircrafts Over Council Property

Do you own or have you recently been gifted a drone, remote aircraft or other remotely operated flying aircraft?

If so then you need to be aware of new rules introduced by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regarding Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) that came in to effect 1 August 2015. 

droneOne of these new rules affects Council, in that operators of RPAS now have to seek permission to fly over people and property. Council owns a number of parks, reserves, road reserves, roads and properties throughout the Hauraki District.

Seeking permission to fly

During Councils meeting of 25 November 2015 a position on the operation of RPAS above Council property was adopted. The position states that:

RPAS operators are permitted to fly over council parks and reserves, with the exception of council cemeteries, upon application to the Hauraki District Council Parks and Reserves Manager.

Applications require the provision of the operators’ details and a signatory on a disclaimer stating that the operator will abide by the conditions set out in the guidelines. (See below)

Council is keen to encourage leisure pursuits and will continue to be happy to allow operators to fly in its reserves as long as conditions are met.

Guidelines and application form

If you have any questions or queries with regards to the guidelines please contact Council during work hours. Alternatively please check the handy Q&A below. A copy of the application form can be downloaded below, or collected from any Council offices.

Q & A - Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems - Operation over Council property

What are Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)?

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) define RPAS in the following manner within rule 101 of its rulings

Remotely piloted aircraft means an unmanned aircraft that is piloted from a remote station and—

(1) includes a radio controlled model aircraft; but
(2) does not include a control line model aircraft or a free flight model aircraft.

Why do I need to seek permission to fly my RPAS over Council property?

The CAA adopted a new ruling in August 2015 requiring all operators of RPAS to have consent from anyone they want to fly above, and/or from the property owner or person in charge of the area they want to fly above.

Council is responding to this ruling by providing a position with regards to flight over Council property only. Operators of RPAS should seek permission from private land owners for flight in any other part of the District.

What are CAA rules and why do I have to abide by them when using RPAS?

There has been huge growth in the development and use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). You can see examples everywhere of aeroplanes and multi-rotor ‘helicopters’ in toy and electronic stores.

There’s also a lot of interest in their commercial use, such as in real estate aerial photography and power lines inspection.

But they are aircraft and present a number of safety risks, particularly close to controlled airspace and over densely-populated areas – what happens if they fail mid-flight? Aviation regulators around the world are grappling with how to integrate RPAS into existing aviation safety systems.

Like all aviation ‘participants’, people who fly RPAS need to know some safety rules, so everyone in the air and on the ground, gets home safely and their aircraft is not destroyed .

The CAA Policy and Regulatory Strategy Unit develops policy, rules, and guidance material related to the safety and security of New Zealand and international aviation. Rule 101 relates to RPAS with rule 102 requiring certification for operators using RPAS over 25kg.

What does part 101 of the CAA rules say?*

Part 101 only applies to RPAS of 25 kg and under that can fully comply with the rules in Part 101. To operate any aircraft over this weight, and for operations that cannot comply with Part 101, the operator must be certificated under Part 102.

RPAS weighing between 15 and 25 kg must be constructed or inspected, approved and operated under the authority of a person or association approved for this purpose by the Director of Civil Aviation.

There are 12 key things that are required under Part 101 - you must:

  1. not operate an aircraft that is 25 kg or larger and always ensure that it is safe to operate
  2. at all times take all practicable steps to minimize hazards to persons, property and other aircraft (ie, don’t do anything hazardous)
  3. fly only in daylight
  4. give way to all crewed aircraft
  5. be able to see the aircraft with your own eyes (eg, not through binoculars, a monitor, or smartphone) to ensure separation from other aircraft (or use an observer to do this in certain cases)
  6. not fly your aircraft higher than 120 metres (400 feet) above ground level (unless certain conditions are met)
  7. have knowledge of airspace restrictions that apply in the area you want to operate
  8. not fly closer than four kilometres from any aerodrome (unless certain conditions are met)
  9. when flying in controlled airspace, obtain an air traffic control clearance issued by Airways
  10. not fly in special use airspace without the permission of the administering authority of the area (eg, military operating areas or restricted areas)
  11. have consent from anyone you want to fly above
  12. have the consent of the property owner or person in charge of the area you are wanting to fly above.

This list should not substitute for a full reading of Part 101. You should conduct a thorough assessment of your operation and understand the rules that apply to your operation before deciding whether to operate under Part 101 and 102.

*The information in this section was take from the CAA website on 15/12/2015. Please ensure you are aware of any updates made to CAA rules after this date (If any).

What Council owned land can I fly above?

Council has given permission (upon application and under certain conditions) to fly over its parks and reserves throughout the District; excluding cemeteries.

Can I fly over Council owned roads?

No – you cannot fly over Council owned roads. Please note that all State Highways are owned by NZTA and therefore permission should be sought from them if you are wishing to cross a State Highways.

How do I apply for consent to fly over Council reserves?

Consent is given upon application to Council. A form can be downloaded from Councils website, or collected from Council offices/libraries. By signing the form you will have provided Council with a disclaimer stating you will abide by the conditions.

If you are a commercial operator then you will be required to provide a copy of the written permission to fly from the event organiser in addition when applying.

The form will ask you where you are most likely to be flying your drone and the days and times you are most likely to do so. This helps Council monitor hot spots of RPAS activity for future analysis.

How much is the application?

There is no charge for this application.

Any other questions?

If you have any other questions regarding the flight of RPAS please refer to the Civil Aviation Authority website which is 

Further information on operating RPAS and other aircraft can also be found on these websites below:

  • the one-stop-shop for information and resources to fly your drone safely. Airshare is quick and easy to use and provides:
    • Maps: to know where to fly
    • My Flights: to log your flights and request access to controlled airspace
    • Top Tips: to understand Civil Aviation Rules
    • Council Policies: on consent for flying over parks and Council land
    • Buzz: to share your footage and news
    • Quiz: to test your knowledge
    • Directory: NZ’s largest directory to find drone operators or service providers

If you have any further questions regarding permission to fly over Council property please contact the Parks and Reserves Manager at Hauraki District Council.

Contact details

Hauraki District Council
0800 734 834
07 862 8609