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Massey University School of Aviation RPAS course

UAVNZ RPAS team at booth

The RPAS, Introduction to Regulations and Operator Conduct course, is a three-day course delivered by Massey University School of Aviation Flight Instructors. In line with the School of Aviation’s commitment to ‘scenario-based’ learning, participants on this course will be challenged to resolve a number of scenarios directly pertinent to the safe operation of RPAS. Successful outcomes from this course meet the initial training requirements for CAA Rule Part 102.

It is designed to meet CAA requirements for RPAS operators with little or no aviation experience who want to enter the industry or further develop their understanding of the use of RPAS in the aviation environment. The course is designed to bridge the gap between RPAS operators and aviators to enhance the safety of your operation. It delivers a syllabus centred around safe operating practices featuring hands-on scenarios and practical demonstrations by industry experts. Course participants will be challenged to resolve a number of scenarios directly pertinent to safe operation of RPAS.

The Massey University School of Aviation is a CAA Rule Part 141 Certified provider for both piloted and non-piloted training. This course has been developed by Flight Instructors who are experienced at introducing students to aviation. It is incorporated within the School’s Safety Management System (SMS).

Why do you need to do this course?

All Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) operations until recently have been governed by rules designed for model aircraft. These rules have been overseen by Model Flying NZ and intended for enthusiasts at model clubs where knowledge of these operating rules is required for membership. This has worked safely in the past. The increase in the availability of RPAS to a range of users, relatively few of whom are affiliated to these clubs, has seen a sharp increase in safety issues arising from a lack of awareness of these rules. 

Massey University School of Aviation Flight Instructors consulted with CAA, RPAS users and other manned airspace users for this course. The course is designed to get participants really thinking about the airspace environment, other airspace users and most of all – safety.

Course Outcomes

PART 1:  Classroom ‘theory’ course – (2 days) in class. On completion the candidate will be required to sit an online examination. Once the examination is complete, a certificate will be issued.

PART 2:  ‘RPAS Flight Examination’   (1 day) – Classroom and field activities. Flight Examination   with Rain Check for 6 months possible .  Successful completion of the RPAS Flight examination will gain the candidate their Log Book Sticker.

On successful completion of both parts, candidates will be awarded the Massey University Certificate of Competency - RPAS - Endorsed Multi-Rotor ("Wings Badge").

This certificate complies with the initial training requirements for Part 102 operators. It is an approved Pilot Qualification which entitles candidates to fly or supervise a multi-rotor operation within 4km of an aerodrome with the aerodrome operator’s agreement.

Our clients include:

  • NZ Racing Board
  • NZ Defence Force (Army - RNZAF - RNZ Navy)
  • NZ Police
  • NZ Fire Service
  • NZ Urban Search and Rescue
  • Fairfax Media
  • Interpine Forestry Innovations Ltd
  • Fulton Hogan
  • Hawkes Bay Regional Council
  • Scan Power
  • Landcare Research
  • Opus International Consultants
  • AUT
  • Auckland University
  • Otago University
  • NIWA
  • GNS Science
  • Tararua District Council
  • Northland Regional Council
  • Department of Conservation
  • Masterton District Council
  • TVNZ
  • Land Information NZ
  • PowerNet
  • Wel Networks Ltd
  • Youth Search and Rescue

Course Structure

RPAS field

After successfully completing this course you will:

  • Interpret the various aviation documents and regulations and be able to apply these to your operation
  • Be able to identify threats to your operation and develop methods of mitigation
  • Understand the conduct required to operate an RPAS in accordance with aviation best practice
  • Practice and comprehend radio telephony procedures and operations
  • Submit as evidence of training from a Part 141-M6 training organisation for an RPAS Part 102 Operator Certificate

The course commences with two days of theory introducing students to aspects of the aviation environment particularly relevant to the operation of RPAS. This is  followed by a flight examination on day three.

Most public RPAS courses will be internally located at the Milson Flight Systems Centre in Palmerston North. In addition, Massey offers two Auckland –based public courses in February and July each year. These will be based on the Massey University Albany Campus.

A minimum number of six participants is required to run each RPAS public course. All courses will be confirmed in writing to all registrants.

The Massey University RPAS team may be deployed to a client’s site for group training outside of the regularly scheduled public courses. A minimum number of 10x participants is required for such courses. In certain circumstances some courses may be tailored to reflect an organisation’s specific requirements.

Part 1: 2-day theory course

Course content

Day one:
  • Threats
  • Regulations
  • Visual Navigation Charts (VNC's)
  • Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP's)
  • Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)
  • Airshare
  • Meteorology
  • Basic Radio Wave Propogation
  • Transceivers
  • Procedures and Phraseology
  • Call Signs
Day two:
  • Making Radio Calls
  • Interpreting Radio Calls
  • Part 102
  • Introduction to Safety Management Systems
  • Operation Planning
  • Visit to Palmerston North Air Traffic Control Tower (for Palmerston North courses only)
  • Practical demonstration of:
    • Pre-flight planning
    • Regulations
    • Operator Conduct

Theory course assessment


After completion of the Part 1 two-day course, all candidates will be enabled to log into the online test delivered via Massey’s online “Stream” learning management system. CAA NZ requires that candidates sitting this assessment achieve a 70% pass mark in this assessment. 

The “Stream” site will remain open to candidates for a period of two weeks after the completion of the two-day course. Upon successful completion of the on-line assessment candidates will receive a Certificate of Completion.

Part 2: Flight Examination

In accordance with Massey University’s Part 141 approval from CAA, Part 2 (Flight Examination) is only available to those candidates who have successfully completed Part 1 of the Massey University RPAS Course.

Day three:

  • classroom overview
  • Field Work
  • RPAS Flight Examination

Candidates must be competent in operating their RPA unit in full manual or altitude hold mode without GPS position hold prior to attempting the Massey University RPAS Flight Examination.

Massey University offers its clients a Multi-Rotor Manual Reversion RPAS Flight Examination.

New Zealand Centre for Precision Agriculture

Massey University's Centre for Precision Agriculture (NZCPA) is an expert in remote sensing using UAV and other remotely piloted systems. The Centre's UAVs and sensor systems are some of the most advanced in the world. They have dedicated UAVs and pasture meters and we are the only organisation outside Europe and   the Americas using the Fenix Hyperspectral Imaging System.

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