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New Zealand Expands Airspace Integrated Trials Programme

An airspace intelligence and management provider for uncrewed air traffic becomes the latest industry partner to join New Zealand’s Airspace Integration Trials Programme (AITP). AITP is a partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the Ministry of Transport (MOT), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and Airways New Zealand to facilitate the safe testing, development, and market reassurance of advanced uncrewed aircraft in New Zealand.

The partner will work with MBIE and other AITP partners to trial the Uncrewed Traffic Management (UTM) system for managing uncrewed aircraft (UA) airspace access as part of the programme. The alliance will use new partner UTM will provide airspace management services in trials. The programme will also share partner data with other systems supporting autonomous drone operations. Moreover, the data will integrate with UA operators’ approaches to demonstrate capabilities such as electronic flight plan submission and authorisation.

The CEO of the organisation stated that this partnership supports the company’s goal of becoming part of an ecosystem that creates safer and more efficient airspace for all participants. She went on to say that New Zealand is excellent for developing and testing airspace initiatives, creating an exciting environment for AITP partners to test and advance the organisation’s capabilities.

Welcoming the new partner, MBIE Director of Innovative Partnerships Joe McKay said, “As the volume and applications of uncrewed aircraft grow, tools for managing uncrewed traffic alongside traditional air traffic become increasingly important. It’s fantastic to have a new partner on board and collaborating with existing parties as we aim to accelerate the safe and efficient integration of advanced unmanned aircraft into New Zealand’s aviation system.”

The new partner and other AITP shareholders will work together to establish research and development facilities. The research facilities will provide long-term economic uncrewed traffic information opportunities through effective lower airspace management and safe drone integration.

The Airspace Integration Trials programme is dedicated to assisting New Zealand with the safe testing, development, and market validation of advanced unmanned aircraft. The government held the programme to incorporate drones and unmanned aircraft into the current transportation system to create a thriving, innovative, and safe advanced aviation sector. The integration of advanced unmanned aircraft capable of transporting people and cargo or performing time-consuming, costly, or risky tasks has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits.

To realise these benefits, industry investment in the development, testing, and certification of new and unproven technologies will be critical. The effort is needed to overcome technical challenges and realise the government’s vision of integration. The Airspace Integration Trials programme aims to speed up the safe testing, development, and market validation of advanced unmanned aircraft and their integration into our aviation system.

The Airspace Integration Trials programme aims to speed up the safe testing, development, and market validation of advanced unmanned aircraft and their integration into our aviation system. The programme builds on the potential for innovation under New Zealand’s current Civil Aviation Rules, allowing the government to collaborate with leading domestic and international industry partners. These industry partners are testing and demonstrating unmanned aircraft for various applications, including passenger transportation, cargo delivery, agricultural services, and hazard management and monitoring.

The MBIE Innovative Partnerships team manages the programme centrally. In addition, the team collaborates with the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Transport, Airways, and other key stakeholders to help industry partners transition their technology from testing to in-service operations.

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