Published date: 5 December 2023

The Civil Aviation Authority celebrates a milestone for emerging aviation technology this week, with a successful series of trial flights of a remotely piloted aircraft beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) into controlled airspace, following IFR routes – a first for New Zealand aviation.

The trials were led by Wisk Aero in collaboration with Insitu Pacific, CAA, Airways New Zealand and Tāwhaki – the indigenous-led aerospace venture where the test flights took place. 

The regulatory approval to enable these trials to take place has been possible thanks to the work of CAA’s Emerging Technologies Programme (ETP) which enables the safe and effective integration of emerging technologies into the civil aviation system by acting as a bridge between CAA’s regulatory functions and emerging technologies innovators and stakeholders.

Director of Emerging Technologies Programme Steve Smyth congratulated everyone involved and acknowledged the cooperation and commitment that was fundamental in the success of the trial.

“The nature of emerging tech is that there’s no straightforward answer to the ‘how’ of integration and the most important thing is that it’s done safely, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to work together throughout the whole process.”

These trials have demonstrated that the unique approach of the ETP enables CAA to guide stakeholders along the regulatory pathway and give advice to make the regulatory process more efficient, without compromising our regulatory responsibilities.

“I’m really proud of the efforts of our people to realise our vision of enabling the safe and effective integration of emerging technologies into the civil aviation system in New Zealand.”

Further information

The Wisk trial is part of the Airspace Integration Trials Programme, established by Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment to facilitate the safe testing, development and market validation of advanced uncrewed aircraft, and accelerate their integration into our aviation system.

Learn more: Airspace Integration Trials | Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment ( link)

Wisk media release: First-of-its-Kind Flight Trials Integrate Uncrewed Aircraft Into Controlled Airspace(external link)

Contact the CAA media team

027 763 0000 |