There are four distinct phases: issue assessment; policy investigation; rule development; and rule finalisation.

Rule development process flow chart [PNG 374 KB]

1. Issue assessment phase

Issues with our aviation regulatory system can arise. For example, technology or international requirements may change, or our existing regulatory requirements could be resulting in unintended safety or economic outcomes.

The issue assessment process provides a formalised way to address these issues. Key steps include:

  • Determining the root cause or problem driving the issue, and the associated risk.
  • Identifying and assessing options to resolve the problem.
  • Development of an issue assessment paper with recommendations.
  • Decisions by a senior review panel, made up of CAA managers.
  • Implementation of agreed actions.

The process is supported by the Aviation Community Advisory Group, a representative body that provides advice, technical input, and feedback on the issue assessment process from an aviation community perspective.

Actions arising from the process can result in either regulatory or non-regulatory change. For example, education and training, changes to our practice, development of guidance material, or changes to rules or legislation.

Anyone can raise an issue for assessment using CAA form 24011/01 [PDF 24 KB]. See Rule projects in progress for any current petitions.

2. Policy investigation phase

Policy investigation involves a more rigorous assessment of the problem, and analyses the options and impacts of any intervention.

Often, policy investigation will conclude that an action other than a rule amendment would be more effective in addressing the issue. That could include revising advisory circulars, initiating education campaigns, developing promotional material, issuing an exemption, or working directly with certain operators. Where that is the case, we'll will work closely with relevant experts, including through industry consultation, to ensure accurate and effective information is provided. See Regulatory policy for current policy projects.

If an issue assessment indicates that a rule amendment may be a good option, we'll establish the policy intent behind any rule change. This includes consultation with affected people and industry experts. 

We'll then produce a regulatory impact statement (RIS) for Treasury. This document describes the options considered, and quantifies the impacts of the proposed change including the safety, economic, environmental, social, cultural, and legal implications. The RIS is a measure to make sure that our proposals for rule changes are based on sound analysis and evidence.

Once the RIS is approved by the Minister (and depending on the nature of the change, sometimes Cabinet) the rule can be included on the Ministry of Transport rules programme.

Progress reports on the rule projects included in the transport rules programme can be found under Rule projects in progress.

3. Rule development phase

The rule drafting will begin once the rule project has been accepted onto the rules programme. We publish a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) and asks for comments on the proposed rule changes during a consultation period where anyone can make a submission.

NPRMs open for submissions

NPRMs closed for submissions

The Rule projects in progress page is updated monthly to provide progress reports for each of the rule projects, including links to any NPRMs. After consultation, we'll publish a summary of public submissions responding to the points made, and may make adjustments to the proposed rule.

4. Rule finalisation phase

Final rule updates based on feedback are passed onto the Ministry of Transport which will review the proposal and provide the final rule package to the Minister for signing.

Any ordinary rule changes are subject to the Minister of Transport's agreement. Once the rule amendments are signed by the Minister, we'll publish the changes in the New Zealand Gazette, and on the our website as Pending rules. The rules don’t normally come into effect until at least 28 days later.

A summary of recently completed rule projects, together with their associated NPRM and summary of submissions can be found under Rule projects in progress.

Further information

You can subscribe to our free email notification service(external link) to receive updates on changes to the rules. As well as the rule parts, there is a category for the Aviation Community Advisory Group, and one for updates to the Rule projects in progress page.

Our How to navigate the rules [PDF 527 KB] booklet explains the rule development process, and includes a guide that gives you an idea of the rules that apply to your aviation activity. For a free copy, email

The current rule development process evolved from the recommendations of the Scholtens Report [PDF 800 KB] completed in 2002.

If you have any questions about the rule development process, please email