RC Flying – Rules in General

The Basics

RC models are covered by rules set down by CAA New Zealand. These are typically referred to as Part 101 and now also Part 102. Hobby RC model flying comes under Part 101. The rules apply to anything that you fly that does not have a pilot on board. Now officially referred to as a UAS or UAV – unmanned aerial system or vehicle.

  • As of 1-August-2015 the new rules came into effect
  • You now need permission of the land owner and people you overfly
  • Don’t fly within 4KM of a airport, airfield or helipad
  • Don’t fly higher than 400 feet  (120 meters) above ground level
  • Don’t fly beyond unaided visual line of sight
  • Be aware of the air-space classification (is it controlled air-space etc. ?)
  • Know the rules and the area you are flying in
  • Be aware of people, vehicles and structures nearby – be responsible

There are other details but these are the big ones.

The New August 2015 Rules

The new rules can be downloaded from CAA here. The Advisory Circular AC101-1 is a good place to start.

The details of the new rules have not changed much, except for the addition of the “permission to overfly” rule.

Part 102 provides a way for CAA to grant permission to operate outside of part 101 rules. You must apply to CAA, have all your safety ducks in a row, and pay the fees. Typically this does not affect hobby RC flying.

Permission to Overfly

This new rule requires that you have permission of the land owner or occupier and of any “people” you overfly. Some local councils are providing a general permission to use a site. Rules regarding type of model or other park users may apply. Contact your council.

Permission from “people” can be written or verbal. It is always best to avoid overflying other people. If there is a chance they will be nervous, you are probably too close.

MFNZ approved sites in use prior to 1-August-2015 are exempt for MFNZ affiliated member use.

Club Flying

This is when you are flying at a approved and/or registered (with MFNZ) club flying site; which in some cases could be a local park.

Advantages are that you are exempt from the above permission to overfly rule and you are covered by the MFNZ insurance, not to mention the benefits of flying with others who can often help you out …. for free 🙂

Note: WMAC has Health and Safety policy documents that cover flying at these sites.

Park Flying

Park flying is usually any RC flying that you do that is not at an approved club flying site. Typically local parks, schools, beaches etc.

There are many park flying sites, but you should be aware of any rules put in place by the local council or land owner. Even if you are a club member, you only have the MFNZ insurance cover at approved flying sites. Many councils permit RC flying in parks, with a few basic safety requirements. Contact your local council if unsure.

WMAC cannot provide specific advice to park flyers as all sites are different. We do urge anyone flying RC to join their local club.

Be aware of and courteous towards other park users. You don’t want to be the cause of having the park closed off to RC flying.

Upper Hutt

Has a policy of allowing park flying as long as the CAA rules are followed, no property within the park area is damaged due to the activity and the health and well being of other park users is taken into consideration.

Greater Wellington Regional Council

A page of guidelines can be found Here.

Other Areas

We are still waiting on confirmation of policies

Wings Badge

Belonging to a MFNZ affiliated model club (like WMAC), you can attain a Wings Badge for various classes of model flying. Such as Basic-Power, Glider, Helicopter and Multi-rotor.

The Wings Badge applies to current members only. ie. you cannot claim to be operating under a wings badge if you do not currently belong to a affiliated club.

The wings badge does not grant you permission to fly around built up areas or over people. This requires an exemption under the Part 102 rules issued by CAA.

For details see our Wings Badge page: Here.

Commercial RC Flying

Operating commercially: This is when you make a return from RC flying. Typically this would be from being paid for aerial video or photographs. This could be just occasionally or full time.

Flying RC commercially does not exclude you from belonging to a club or holding a Wings Badge. Belonging to a club is highly recommended as a source of information, expertise and assistance.

You can operate a RC model for commercial purposes under Part 101 rules; just follow the rules. The Wings Badge and club membership do not grant permission to operate outside of Part 101 rules. The MFNZ affiliation insurance cover only applies when operating on a MFNZ approved site. Contact your own insurance company about cover for other flying. You may be covered for some public liability if you have contents insurance.