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Massey University School of Aviation RPAS courses


RPAS or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) continue to be a successful and fast-growing sector of the aviation marketplace.  Technological developments and the applications of that technology continue to grow exponentially.  However, an understanding of the concept of ‘airmanship ‘and other factors affecting operations of this technology is integral to the safe use of RPAS platforms.  The NZ airspace is a highly regulated and rule-driven environment. The aircraft component is just one element of a larger aviation ‘system’ in which RPAS operators are required to understand and work within. Massey’s professional training courses are designed to introduce concepts of ‘best practice’ to both the novice and the more experienced RPAS operator.

RPAS field

Introduction to Regulations and Operator Conduct

This professional training course contains modules which are designed and delivered by our team of RPAS Instructors and an RPAS consultant. 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.

The course meets CAA requirements for RPAS operators with little or no aviation experience who want to enter the industry or for those who wish to 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 centered 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. It is also holds a CAA NZ Part 102 unmanned aircraft operator certificate. This course was been developed by Massey University Flight Instructors who are experienced at introducing students to aviation and is constantly refined to meet current industry best practice. It is incorporated within the School’s Safety Management System (SMS).

The Massey University RPAS course is available via two options.

1)     A full three-day internal course delivered at the Massey University Aviation Centre in Palmerston North. This option includes the two- day theory component immediately followed on day three by the RPAS Flight Examination.

2)    Alternatively, candidates may complete the theory modules online and schedule the RPAS practical assessment (RPAS Flight Examination) later.

Group courses are also available on- site where a team of Massey RPAS instructors will travel to a clients’ workplace to deliver the full three-day course in situ.

Why do you need to do this course?

The dramatic increase in availability of RPAS to a range of users - relatively few of whom are affiliated to clubs such as Model Flying NZ - continues alongside the ongoing extraordinary development of RPAS technology and adaptation across a wide arrange of applications and industries. Safety issues arising from a lack of awareness of regulations pertaining to operating RPAS devices in the NZ aviation environment remains a problem and a challenge to be addressed.

Massey University School of Aviation Flight Instructors consulted widely with CAA, RPAS users and other manned airspace users in the original development of this course. It is designed to challenge participants to really think about the airspace environment, other airspace users and most of all – safety.

Course Outcomes

RPAS field

    After successfully completing this course you will:

    • Be able to interpret the various aviation documents and regulations and 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

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

    Part 1: Theory course

    Course content/Modules

    • Threats
    • Regulations
    • Visual Navigation Charts (VNC's)
    • Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP's)
    • Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)
    • Airshare
    • Meteorology
    • Basic Radio Wave Propagation
    • Transceivers
    • Procedures and Phraseology
    • Call Signs
    • Making Radio Calls
    • Interpreting Radio Calls
    • Part 102
    • Introduction to Safety Management Systems
    • Operation Planning
    • Practical demonstration of:
      • Pre-flight planning
      • Regulations
      • Operator Conduct

    Theory 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.

    Extreme closeup of RPAS in field

    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 revision
    • Practice scenarios 
    • 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. Evidence of 5 hours minimum RPAS operating experience must be submitted at the time of booking an RPAS practical assessment.

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

    Course Delivery


    The internal 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 or at a later date. Public RPAS courses will be internally located at the Massey University Aviation Centre in Palmerston North – dates as published on the Massey RPAS website.

    A minimum number of six participants is required to run each RPAS internal (face-face) public course. 


    1)    The course’s theory modules have been pre-recorded and cover all topics pertaining to use of RPAS in NZ’s aviation sector. All modules will be accessible via the Massey web learning environment STREAM. They can either be completed as a block over two days - or by module on demand delivered on-line over the course of four weeks.   Q&A sessions with the RPAS team Leader or an RPAS instructor can be scheduled as required. 

    2)    Duration: Once a candidate has been enrolled on the RPAS course and been advised of their log-in details for the Massey University STREAM site, the course will be available to them for a period of six weeks.  This will allow the candidate to complete both the online course and the online assessment - after which access to the RPAS STREAM site will be cancelled.  A pass mark of 70% is required for a candidate to have been deemed to have passed the assessment.

    3)    Practicum assessment – (RPAS Flight examination) - in person in Palmerston North or at an agreed alternative location. Date/s to be mutually agreed between the candidate and Massey University and scheduled accordingly.                                                                

    Corporate COURSES

    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.

    Our clients include:

    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
    Auckland University
    Otago University
    GNS Science
    Tararua District Council
    Northland Regional Council
    Department of Conservation
    Masterton District Council
    Land Information NZ
    Wel Networks Ltd
    Youth Search and Rescue

    Junior RPAS Course 

    Massey University has  developed a ‘Junior RPAS Course’ designed to introduce intermediate school and junior high school students to the basic rules of operating an RPAS unit in the NZ. It is an online course that encompasses the core Part 101 requirements and includes a fun quiz on completion. No practical evaluation is included.  Students who complete this course will be sent a ‘Certificate of Completion’.

    Contact Us or Register - Junior RPAS Course

    Other services

    RPAS Training for RPAS operators

    RPAS Consultancy

    Contact Us or Register for the full RPAS Course>