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New Zealand’s Airspace Integration Trials Programme for UAV integration

New Zealand Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods announced that the government is establishing an Airspace Integration Trials Programme.

According to a recent press release, this will support the safe testing and development of advanced unmanned aircraft as well as accelerate their integration into the aviation system.

Airspace Integration Trials Programme

The Government will work with leading, innovative aviation industry partners to test and demonstrate the use of unmanned aircraft for passenger transport, cargo delivery, agricultural services and hazard management.

This builds on the potential for innovation under New Zealand’s current Civil Aviation rules, and advances the Government’s vision for a thriving, innovative and safe aviation system.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is engaging with the first industry partner in the programme to define the scope of a passenger-transport focused trial.

The company has been testing and developing ‘Cora’, which is their self-flying, electric, vertical take-off and landing aircraft, in New Zealand since 2017.

It took more than nine years to develop in the United States.

Funding support

NZ$ 2.1 million, which will build capability, including the employment of more technical experts, has been reprioritised from Vote Science and Innovation to the Civil Aviation Authority in order to support the programme.

Meanwhile, NZ$ 900,000 will be allocated for the Ministry of Transport to support policy development related to regulatory settings.

Additionally, aircraft owners will be reimbursed for a portion of the cost of installing ADS-B transponders in order to support the modernisation of the country’s aviation system.

The ADS-B Transponder Grant will be available to approximately 4,000 general aviation operators in New Zealand.

ADS-B technology will bring numerous safety benefits to the aviation system.

Since small aircraft operators may face cost obstacles, the government has decided to provide financial assistance for aircraft owners to fit ADS-B technology.

These funding decisions support the Government’s vision for a thriving, innovative and safe aviation system.

Moreover, it also works towards a future in which unmanned aircraft could be a part of the everyday life of New Zealanders.

Background of the initiative

In July, the Government released the paper Taking Flight: an aviation system for the automated age, which sets out the vision to integrate small drones and advanced UA into the transport system and develop a thriving, innovative and safe sector.

Industry investing in the development, testing and certification of new and unproven advanced UA and adjacent technologies is a key to achieving this vision.

OpenGov Asia recently reported on Drones to help New Zealand’s economy take off.

The emerging UA sector is fast growing and R&D intensive, and the integration of UA into the aviation system has the potential to generate significant economic benefits.

A recent benefit study commissioned by MBIE and the Ministry of Transport estimated that the commercial application of UA could generate up to NZ$ 7.9 billion in additional value to the New Zealand economy over the next 25 years.


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