Rant: New Zealand CAA's new drone rules, almost a year on

A brickbat for New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority almost a year after they lumped the responsible, genuine RC fliers in with the droners and stripped us of several key freedoms we hadd safely enjoyed for many decades without problems.

In August 2015, the New Zealand CAA decided in their wisdom, that anything which flies (regardless of size or mass) and can be remotely controlled is now an “aircraft” — just like a C172, A320 or 747. In this video, I have a little rant about the CAA’s poor performance in the area of creating a sensible regulatory framework for the use of drones *and* RC flying models by way of good rules, adequate promulgation and consistent enforcement.

Not good enough CAA. Surely your entire collection of exception-riddled rules could be condensed from the current five pages of regulations, down to this:

“No operator of an RPAS shall operate their craft in a manner that constitutes a danger or threat to the person or property of another in the air or on the ground and such craft must always remain below 400 feet AGL except when expressed prior permission has been granted by the relevant controlling authority.”

That’s pretty much it. Anything else is redundant.

Okay, add in some *sensible* definitions — such as what actually constitutes a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS), “drone”, model aircraft, etc — and you’re done.

Don’t insult our intelligence by suggesting that a 20g Cheerson CX10 is in some way just as much an “aircraft” as an Airbus A380 or C172 — or even that it represents as much of a threat to public safety as a 14Kg carbon multirotor – it makes you look silly and exposes your rules to ridicule rather than respect.

Add some guidelines to help the feeble-minded — such as staying away from airports etc — and you’re done.

Remember.. the fewer rules/regs, the fewer loopholes created and the reduced need for “exceptions” to patch up the anomalies that complex regulations (like the present ones) invariably create.

That so many “droners” have such a poor grasp of the current rule-set clearly proves that it is both too complex and inadequately promulgated. With only one rule, there can be *no* excuse for ignorance on the part of drone operators.

Rules & regulations do not stop people from doing bad things – they simply allow you to punish them after the fact. Focus instead on a much simpler, more concise rule-set and dedicate your efforts to educating people as to exactly *why* those rules are important and what they can do to ensure they’re compliant.

By suggesting that a child’s toy is a real “aircraft”, CAA are showing contempt for those who they ought to be encouraging to fly safely and responsibly. This shows a complete lack of understanding of how to modify and shape human behaviour — not good enough, when lives are at stake.

CAA… step away from the coffee and biscuits! Revise CAA101 right now to make it fairer and more sensible in a way that shows commonsense and respect for those whose freedoms and privileges you so quickly remove. Show some respect for the RC flying community and you’ll be surprised at how freely we’ll work to help you ensure that the droners aren’t a risk to public safety. Treat us like morons and you only have yourselves to blame when bad things happen due to your obvious arrogance and ignorance.


  1. schmudge on September 13, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Could always do a series of making paper planes

  2. Andrew Van Der Plaats on September 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

    What had been no problem came to the attention of the CAA and quickly became a SNAFU, which turned into a FUBAR.

  3. Don Fish Jr. on September 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

    To be a bureaucrat you must pass the medieval torture chamber operators exam. Do your best to inflict the most unreasonable discomfort to anyone who looks like they might be enjoying themselves. Totally indifferent to the shrieks of those they are inflicting their power upon. Bureaucracies are founded on maximum pay for minimum mental or physical effort. Power corrupts. The more power the more corruption. Top bureaucrats are those bureaucrats that have risen to the level of their INCOMPETENCY!

  4. Airpic on September 13, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Maybe reading was his worst subject at school, and his secretaries worst subject was writing, well, anything is possible in this day and age Bruce.

  5. TheFistFPV on September 13, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Oh, disregard. I just saw that it is for commercial purposes.

  6. Franklin Arguedas on September 13, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Dear Sir, your criticism of the New Zealand CAA use of the word aircraft to engulf any flying object, is not quite correct, the dictionary defines aircraft as follows: aircraft
    an aeroplane, helicopter, or other machine capable of flight.

    You do a wonderful job, and your videos are fun to watch, but with due respect, you have to pay closer attention in how you are interpreting the law and the definition of certain words, mate. Kind regards

  7. Jared Turner on September 13, 2020 at 11:05 am

    My drone from Banggood, Amazon and Gearbest didn’t come with this brochure whats going on 🙂

  8. Take a stride or Step aside on September 13, 2020 at 11:05 am

    I love you Bruce…that’s all I have to say

  9. stewjw on September 13, 2020 at 11:06 am

    it does make you think. The regulators have been looking at this the wrong way in most countries. There is going to be an increasing use of "drones" for all sorts of activities both commercial and for fun. They are not going away. The regulators should be restricting low altitudes from full scale aircraft unless landing or taking off or they are slow moving aircraft like microlights etc. whuch can share the same space. Like a lot of new technology it may take a new generation of regulators to understand and enforce this. To a lot of us who follow this forum it seems obvious.

  10. Lambchops on September 13, 2020 at 11:08 am

    Just on a tangent…There are 2 aircraft Bruce, your hearing must be very sensitive.  At 15:02 something  fly’s left to right across the screen… a pesky DRONE maybe!

  11. Alex Paulsen on September 13, 2020 at 11:08 am

    I know an aircraft engineer here who said a drone is less of a hazard than a bird, and the chances of an actual collision do not add enough to potential aerial hazards to justify such a strong crackdown. Sure, perhaps catch the people intentionally trying to do harm, but perhaps they should ask birds for a permit first.

  12. Denzel man toys- industrial ltd melbourne on September 13, 2020 at 11:08 am

    i can wright up some much batter then that

  13. Denzel man toys- industrial ltd melbourne on September 13, 2020 at 11:08 am

    drone they are unmande

  14. Bob Grey on September 13, 2020 at 11:09 am

    whoa, your sick voice makes you sound so much younger

  15. Joenas Gayramon on September 13, 2020 at 11:10 am

    this is what happen when bunch of idiots start flying drones, quads, or RPAS irresponsibly. 5 or 10 years ago hobbyist can fly their quad freely but now because of these people who don’t care or gave a shit about other’s safety as long as they have fun we can no longer fly. every time you fly your quad it feels like you are breaking some rules and you have this feeling that someone might complain and you get in trouble. this is exactly the reason why i never flown my quad outside my property.

  16. Joe 03 on September 13, 2020 at 11:10 am

    10:25 don’t know what they’re smoking at… C.I.A?? CAA or CIA?? Other than that great video!

  17. Denzel man toys- industrial ltd melbourne on September 13, 2020 at 11:10 am

    drone is a unmaned aircarft

  18. jack00scarecrow on September 13, 2020 at 11:14 am

    that mini quad is definitely an aircraft but only for ants and bacteria 😉 get well soon Bruce

  19. TheFistFPV on September 13, 2020 at 11:15 am

    PLEASE READ, MR. BRUCE! If you thought it was bad before, check out the new regulation:

  20. Keith D on September 13, 2020 at 11:16 am

    I walked up to the top of Aucklands One Tree Hill yesterday (as you can no longer drive up there) and I saw a new sign which both surprised me and anoyed me. It indicated that the summit is now a no drone fly zone. Later when I went home to verify this no drone fly area on the airshare website, the airshare website showed that the summit of one tree hill is a drone fly area. I would like to know who put the sign there but I am sure someone will remove it soon as this is the best place to use a drone in central Auckland.

  21. madazz01 on September 13, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Thanks Bruce, I get what you are saying about having to follow the rules because the attention is on you, but I guess I should clarify my point. My point is whilst there are fools in positions of power that have absolutely no idea about or any interest about the subject except what they see on 60 minutes or the news about rc aircraft, you will never win.
    At the moment they are all covering their backsides with feeble and ambiguous rules which depending on the exact situation could be completely useless, but I think if we kick up a stink too much then they might get someone with an actual brain to look at it and for the sake of covering every avenue could come up with some really tight legislation that does truly effect us all.
    It could backfire on us.
    At the moment they’ve just written they’re own version of 50 shades of grey areas, that may or may not effect you in a given situation.

    I hope that clears it up a bit.


  22. treemanSI on September 13, 2020 at 11:17 am

    like the tea biscuits and scones. and you are correct live in Queenstown and a week does not go past without seeing drone.

  23. Quokka57 on September 13, 2020 at 11:19 am

    This may just scare the shit out of some people – Jayzuz… "Drones" have become the new Terrorists… ??https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X27-2WDIZR0

  24. Dji Phantom Zone on September 13, 2020 at 11:19 am

    Idiots making rules 101.

  25. Another World is Possible on September 13, 2020 at 11:20 am

    I see the regulation also includes "kites".

  26. MightyRude on September 13, 2020 at 11:22 am

    The small toy drones are aircraft because they can fly into someone’s mouth and choke them
    The toy coaxial helicopters are also very dangerous the props can come off and could be found by a very psychotic child that takes someone’s eye out with it
    It is much worse to lose your eye or be choked by a toy than being crushed by an airbus a380

  27. Farhan Muhammad on September 13, 2020 at 11:22 am

    So where exactly can i fly my drone without having to get any permission?

  28. Rick Redfern on September 13, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Someone forgot to take there Meds Does your Gov pay these idiots

  29. UAVPILOT on September 13, 2020 at 11:25 am

    CAA should follow CASA’s example. CASA has done an extraordinary job, in outlining the rules in a manner, that is simple and very easy to understand. Maybe someone from CASA should fly over to NZ and teach CAA how to write their safety guidelines properly.

  30. D Jaquith on September 13, 2020 at 11:27 am

    I get both sides, and laws are in place to protect against the worst not the best. Even those hand sized drones have cameras. So if your wife is sunbathing on your farm and some jackass takes pictures and posts them .. how are you going to feel?

  31. RoboTekno on September 13, 2020 at 11:28 am

    I couldn’t agree more. A lot of this applies to the FAA’s commercial and hobby rules too. I long for the days of flying my gliders in thermals all day and I didn’t have to pay and beg the FAA for permission to do so.

  32. southernexposure123 on September 13, 2020 at 11:32 am

    Your post was hilarious and accurate. Even more hilarious because it was so accurate.
    A lot of bureaucrats should be locked inside a bureau and fed with a tube until they mature. Then – at maturity – remove the feeding tube. That’s a joke – that’s a joke. ((-:
    If someone is able to inhale bureaucrats want to regulate the exhalation. Over here – they do just that. Co2 ? – they want to regulate and impose taxes on Co2.
    I think the real answer to all that begins in the voting booth. The problem with that is WE keep allowing THEM to give US our only choices.

  33. Juan Valdesz on September 13, 2020 at 11:35 am

    This was actually quite funny 😂 You should do rants full time

  34. Drew_FPV on September 13, 2020 at 11:36 am

    I didn’t have a clue about these rules

  35. roscocsa on September 13, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Government clerkery at it’s finest. Judging by the evidence, your rule makers and ours in the US are actually just broken off chunks of a larger bacterial mass. That’s my only hypothesis for the parallel eradication of common sense that I can come up with.

  36. Barry Giblett on September 13, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Hope you get well soon Bruce, hey and if by some small chance CASSA come calling for help, maybe $300/hr in you patreon acc may help the flue feel a bit better, than a pineapple up the butt…. well spoken like you said they need to be told it is bullshit, cos they are so far up them selves even to realize…ps.   please don’t pick on my spelling….

  37. I was the flying kiwi on September 13, 2020 at 11:39 am

    can we please try and fight this rubbish bruce? can we petition, or do something about these contradicting rules.

  38. Dave Roche on September 13, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Slow down Bruce your hair is blowing off.

  39. amtpdb1 on September 13, 2020 at 11:44 am

    I got this today. What are your thoughts.

    Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Aviation
    Administration (FAA) announced the final Small UAS Rule this morning.
    The press release is available at: https://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=20515. 

    Details about the rule are available on the FAA’s UAS website.

  40. Black Sheep Biker on September 13, 2020 at 11:45 am

    I have an order in for a drone but considering cancelling it – with the rule requiring consent from landowner, how can I comply with that if I visit Gt Barrier for instance? Who do I get permission from? if it’s DOC land, they want hundreds of dollars for permission. Grrrr

  41. chrisj800 on September 13, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Time to emigrate to the West Island? 😉

  42. Min. on September 13, 2020 at 11:47 am

    So, what’s your opinion on bureaucrats?

  43. thejason51873 on September 13, 2020 at 11:48 am

    They WILL listen to you Bruce and change the law to 50g. Anything under 50g is a toy just so they dont have to hear your gripe about the Cheerson.

  44. mboiko on September 13, 2020 at 11:48 am

    For those wanting to compare the CAA rules against the latest FAA Part 107 rules here you go. The full FAA Part 107 "ONLY" guide should be out by this August… Yes, I know this is not an apples to apples comparison…but hey it’s a start.

  45. Rumjar Media on September 13, 2020 at 11:50 am

    it’s a joke over in Australia too… it’s becoming a money making scheme for licensing etc. I wonder what laws would fall into place if they try to take someones drone, or something like that. I mean it’s illegal for some company/corp to take your car… it’s classed as private property… any ways… love your videos

  46. spike rc on September 13, 2020 at 11:53 am

    hay man I just started woching ur vid 2days ago wen I wos looking at ur chep drone vids and loved them and wen u sed u wer from nz I instinty supscribed. and love this runt and wod b nice 2 meet u 1 day as I’m from rotorua

  47. UTubeGlennAR on September 13, 2020 at 11:54 am

    Sadly because of the massive number of numskulls that purchased and now operate drones all over the world doing stupid stuff with them have tickled the numskulls in charge of our societies so much that they now are over reacting since they have not a clue how n what to do with the small number of drone pilots that are irresponsible in their drone activities…..

    Perhaps the the government numskulls are now in in fear that something like the numbers of numskulls in the USA that own guns as toys and now some of those radical numskulls are killing numbers of people on a weekly basis will and something similar with drones as weapons?????

    It is a hell of a situation our species has got it’s self into. Pandora’s box had been opened in many instances, drones is just another one.

    I am not for or against drones. But even if only .5% are irresponsible drone pilots, the numbers are so large, I see how the baffoons in charge of legislation are over reacting and coming up with stupid rules…….

    Another example is hand held cheap lasers. Every day some numskull is pointing them at peoples eyes, some of these eyes are people flying full scale aircraft. Sadly it is just a matter of time before personal lasers and drones kill a passenger plane full of people……..
    I sure hope I am wrong…………….

    There just is too many of in too small of a place with nothing to do……………….

  48. Luke Boland on September 13, 2020 at 11:55 am

    Hi Bruce

    Sadly, it’s not all sunshine and lollypoops in Australia. CASA rules state that if you are flying your drone for benefit or gain, you have to (a) have a drone pilots license and (b) be flying for a company that is registered with CASA for drone flight.

    Benefit/gain includes uploading videos to YouTube, and probably also racing for prizes.

    Having inquired this morning, I have discovered that I would have to register as a business (sole trader), create flight manuals that prove to CASA that you have rules in place to enable you to obey laws regarding flight (these must be submitted to CASA for their approval), have them approved to get the UOC (CASA business approval), obtain my UAV license, and then obtain 3rd party public liability insurance.

    I can get UOC manual assistance + UAV license for around $AU4k, the UOC submission is roughly $AU2500, and public liability insurance for drones is $AU4k-6k pa after that.

    "Onerous" doesn’t quite cover it.

  49. Lloyd Prunier on September 13, 2020 at 11:57 am

    Now this is the Bruce we know and listen to !   It’s a mess all over the world I guess?  Haven’t heard from Russia, South America, China, Mexico, and etc.

  50. All The Gear on September 13, 2020 at 11:58 am

    If you’re concentrating on something, like flying fpv, you will be focused on what you’re doing and could quite easily not hear approaching aircraft. It doesn’t take much at all to distract you.

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