The Act introduces several measures to improve security arrangements. 

Changes relating to aviation security will clarify:

  • The institutional arrangements to remove any conflict of interest between the Civil Aviation Authority and AvSec.
  • The powers, protections, and tools Aviation Security Officers have at security designated aerodromes.
  • Who can provide aviation security services.
  • Expansion of the aviation security regime to enable short-term additional security measures in temporary 'landside security areas' at airports when needed to respond to a heightened threat.

What is changing?

When the Act comes into effect on 5 April 2025, the changes will vary in size and impact. The following tables provide a summary of the changes and note where sections in the Civil Aviation Act 2023 relate to the sections in the 1990 Act.

Where AvSec works

What it is What it means Section
2023 Act 1990 Act

Existing security areas become airside security areas

The Director of Civil Aviation can declare an airside security area within a security designated aerodrome. An area that was previously considered a security area within an aerodrome will now become an airside security area.

Entry restrictions into airside security areas remain the same as previous entry restrictions into security and security enhanced areas.

A person in an airside security area must still provide evidence of identity and authority to be in the area but is no longer required to provide proof of address. Aviation Security Officers can seize the evidence of identity if they think it is being used in breach of civil aviation legislation or approval has been withdrawn or expired. The seized proof of identity should be returned to the issuer.

A person who is detained in an airside security area must be handed over to the police.






84(1), (1A)

84(2), (7), (8)

84(3) – (6)


Introduction of landside security areas

The Minister of Transport can declare a landside security area and if the Minister does, Aviation Security Officers may be given equivalent powers in these areas to those they have in airside security areas.

The definition of a security area has been expanded to include a landside security area.



Introducing tiers

Any existing security designated aerodrome is automatically considered a Tier 1 aerodrome.

The Act provides the facility for tiers other than Tier 1 to be designated.

The Minister of Transport must ensure that security services are provided at all Tier 1 aerodromes and navigation installations.

120, 56(d)-(f), Schedule 1 37




Definition of an aerodrome

The definition has been expanded to include any area that may be held for future use by the airport. The airport operator is also able to vary the area in their registration.



Searching and screening

What it is What it means Section
2023 Act 1990 Act

Searching powers of Aviation Security Officers

The Act removes any perceived difference between screening and searching and refers only to searching. The concept of a ‘screening point’ remains.

The duty to search remains largely the same but the empowering provisions have been redrafted into new sections, e.g., the duty to undertake searches no longer sits within Functions and Duties of AvSec but is in section 141 Searching Powers, and the requirement to search has been broadened to a requirement to carry out directions of the Minster or Director under the Act.

The Act clarifies that ASOs are allowed to use any aid or device that is reasonably necessary to search, if the device does not produce an unclothed image of the person.

It makes it clear that dogs can be used by an ASO, and under which circumstances this can occur.

The Act provides new powers:

  • It expands (through clarification) that searching can happen at any place.
  • It specifies that data on an electronic device is not to be accessed.
  • It expands the ability to search at the request of an operator, police, or on the ASO’s own initiative.
  • It clarifies that dogs can be used for searching.

Passengers are now able to request that an ASO of a different sex conducts a search when not using a mechanical device or dog.











Searching for dangerous goods and other substances or ‘things’

New definitions have been added for:

  • relevant item or substance
  • thing

In most instances within the 2023 Act, a relevant item or substance has replaced references to dangerous goods from the 1990 Act, but most powers are still the same.

The Act provides new or changed powers -

  • It is no longer required to notify an air operator on the discovery of an item.
  • An item or substance can now be given to the aerodrome.

An employee of a government agency or airline can now seize and detain something suspected to be dangerous goods taken on board or carried on an aircraft from/to a security designated airport. They must give this item or substance to an ASO to assess its lawfulness.











Electronic devices

New powers for ASOs and Police allow them to search electronic devices but specify that data is not allowed to be accessed.

New definitions for:

  • data
  • electronic device or device



80G, 2

80, 80A, 80B, 80C

When consent for searching is and is not required

The Act makes it explicit that an ASO can only touch someone with their consent.  A person gives automatic consent to being searched without being touched (eg going through a walkthrough metal detector) by going through a screening point.

A passenger is taken for all purposes to have consented to the searching of their hold baggage while it is being handled by the airline or inspected by a government agency prior to loading.

There is provision for searching of a thing without consent if it is found unattended at an airport or in any case where there is an imminent risk to aviation safety and security that requires an immediate response. A thing includes a vehicle.







Institutional arrangements

What it is What it means Section
2023 Act 1990 Act

AvSec no longer required to hold Aviation Document for the provision of aviation security services

AvSec is no longer required to have an Aviation Document, but they must still meet the requirements of the Rules as if they did (unless the Rules state otherwise).

The Minister of Transport can specify that only AvSec is to perform security operations at an airport.

CAA has a new function, to provide and oversee a service called the Aviation Security Service. The Director has a new function, to monitor and evaluate AvSec. 

References to the GM of AvSec have been removed.

136 (3)






79(2), (3), 81(1)



72B (1)


72I(2), (3), (3D), (4)

72L, 72M, 72O

Defence Force can be used as ASOs

Defence Force personal can be deployed as ASOs, for example, in the case of a strike or if there is a significant security incident and additional screening is necessary at short notice.



Security checks on behalf of the Director

What it is What it means Section
2023 Act 1990 Act

Redrafting of section

While these sections are predominantly re-numbering and splitting the sections, there are two notable changes:

  • Expanded definition of a New Zealand person
  • Clarification that the Privacy Act does not prevent agencies from disclosing information about a person.




What it is What it means Section
2023 Act 1990 Act

Infringement notices

Infringement notices are now able to be revoked under certain circumstances.

Some minor changes have been made to the payment and issuing processes.



Changes to some fines (non-infringement)

Fines have been increased and the possibility of both a fine and imprisonment has been introduced covering:

  • Security check offences
  • Refusal to give particulars or to leave an airside security area or security enhanced area
  • An offence to impersonate an Aviation Security Officer (ASO)
  • An offence to obstruct an ASO or authorised security person











New offences (non-infringement)

New offences have been included in the Act:

  • Being present in a security area without being searched or when not authorised (infringement or fine imposed by court)
  • Threatening or assaulting an ASO or authorised security person
  • Obstruction or interference with an aviation security dog
  • Killing or injuring an aviation security dog






Unruly passenger offences

The possibility of both a fine and imprisonment has been introduced for unruly passenger offences.

Changes to criteria for unruly passenger offences have been introduced for:

  • A passenger endangering safety
  • Disruptive conduct towards a crew member
  • Interference with an aircraft

394-397, 400-403