Airspace Integration Trials
Our Airspace Integration Trials programme is dedicated to supporting the safe testing, development and market validation of advanced unmanned aircraft in New Zealand.
A thriving, innovative and safe drone sector
The Government has a vision to integrate drones and unmanned aircraft into the current transport system to develop a thriving, innovative and safe advanced aviation sector.
Read the Drone integration paper [PDF, 973KB](external link) on the Ministry of Transport website.
The integration of advanced unmanned aircraft, capable of carrying people, cargo or performing time intensive, expensive or risky tasks, has the potential to deliver significant economic benefits(external link).
To unlock these benefits, a number of technical challenges still need to be overcome. Industry investment in the development, testing and certification of new and unproven technologies will be vital to overcome these challenges and achieve the Government’s vision of integration.
The Airspace Integration Trials programme
We are establishing an Airspace Integration Trials programme to facilitate the safe testing, development and market validation of advanced unmanned aircraft, and accelerate their integration into our aviation system.
The programme builds on the potential for innovation under New Zealand’s current Civil Aviation Rules. It will provide the mechanism for Government to work with leading, innovative domestic and international industry partners to test and demonstrate Unmanned Aircraft for a range of purposes including passenger transport, cargo delivery, agricultural services, and hazard management and monitoring services.
The programme will be centrally managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Innovative Partnerships team, working alongside the Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Transport and other key stakeholders to support industry partners to take their technology from testing to in-service operations.
Wisk New Zealand trial
We are excited to have Wisk New Zealand(external link) (formerly operating in New Zealand as Zephyr Airworks) on board as the first industry partner in the programme.
In early 2020, the Government announced it had signed an MOU with Wisk to support the establishment of a world-first passenger transport trial of Cora, their self-flying, all-electric air taxi in Canterbury, New Zealand.
Wisk have been testing Cora in New Zealand since 2017 after more than nine years of development in the United States.
With the agreement in place, planning for a passenger transport trial in Canterbury is underway. The trial will commence after Cora receives certification by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.
- Advanced Aviation Technologies platform-play: Positioning New Zealand as the location of choice for the emerging unmanned aircraft sector [PDF 12MB]
- Establishing a programme of airspace integration trials [PDF 7.1MB]
- Establishing a programme of airspace integration trials: next steps [PDF 5.7MB]
- Airspace Integration Trials programme: update and proposed ‘soft-launch’ [PDF 3.3MB]
The Ministry of Transport(external link) is the Government’s principal transport advisor. Read more about the Government’s vision for the drone sector(external link), and the benefits of airspace integration(external link).
For more information on the current safety rules for drones and advanced unmanned aircraft in New Zealand, see the Civil Aviation Authority(external link).
If you would like to discuss opportunities to test and develop advanced aviation technologies in New Zealand, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.