Introduction to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Regulations and Operator Conduct

Massey’s professional Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) courses introduce concepts of ‘best practice’ to novice and more experienced RPAS operators.

The rapidly developing unmanned aviation (RPAS) sector has seen the need for increased formalisation and professional oversight of the industry, resulting in a drive by UAVNZ to ensure the quality and integrity of training for all clients seeking to upskill themselves in operating this technology in New Zealand.

Massey University School of Aviation is one of only five New Zealand RPAS training organisations to be officially recognised as a UAVNZ Recognised Training Provider.

Signatories agree to abide by a set of professional standards which embed standards governing the quality of the training, peer reviews of the training, and a complaints process for clients who consider that their training failed to meet these professional standards. This recognition fits seamlessly with Massey’s continuing drive for best practice and ‘safety -first’ approach which governs both its Bachelor of Aviation degree and RPAS training courses.

As a CAANZ Part 141 training provider (fixed wing and RPAS) Massey offers two professional RPAS training courses:

UAVNZ logo


Massey School of Aviation is a Recognised Training Provider with UAVNZ - a division of Aviation New Zealand which is the largest commercial General Aviation association in the country.

Introduction to RPAS Regulations and Operator Conduct key facts

Start dates for 2024

  • 7 - 9 February
  • 20 - 22 March
  • 1 - 3 May
  • 5 - 7 June
  • 24 - 26 July
  • 11 - 13 September
  • 6 - 8 November

Online theory courses are available throughout the year.


Corporate/group rates are available.

Delivery mode

Online and in person.


Massey's RPAS course is available via either:

  • a full two-day internal course delivered at Massey University Aviation Centre in Palmerston North (minimum six participants) followed by a flight examination day held at Massey University (Manawatū campus)
  • completing theory modules online and scheduling the RPAS practical assessment (RPAS Flight Examination) later.

Courses can be delivered on-site for groups of 10 or more. Some courses can be tailored by arrangement to reflect an organisation's specific training requirements.



  • a full three-day course, or
  • online course to be completed within 6 weeks, followed by a practical assessment (RPAS Flight Examination) at a later date in person in Palmerston North or an alternate location by arrangement .


This professional course bridges knowledge gaps between RPAS operators and aviators to enhance the safety of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems/Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operations.

Designed by Massey's RPAS Instructors and an RPAS consultant, the course challenges participants to think about the airspace environment, other airspace users and most of all – safety.

The course syllabus is based on safe operating practices, with hands-on scenarios and practical demonstrations by industry experts. Course participants are challenged to resolve a number of scenarios that are required to safely conduct an RPAS operation.

The course was developed by Massey flight instructors who are experienced at introducing students to aviation. It is regularly refined to meet current best practice for the aviation industry and is incorporated within the school’s Safety Management System (SMS).

Massey School of Aviation is a CAANZ Rule Part 141 Certified provider for both piloted and non-piloted training. It is also holds a CAANZ Part 102 unmanned aircraft operator certificate.

Who this course is 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.

Why take this course

Widespread availability of RPAS, alongside developments in RPAS technology and adaptation across a range of uses and industries, has created safety risks from a lack of awareness of RPAS aviation regulations.

Massey's RPAS Team – consisting of an RPAS specialist who is supported by Massey’s own flight instructors – continue to consult widely with CAANZ, UAVNZ, RPAS users and other manned airspace users to ensure the course remains relevant and directly applicable to the NZ aviation environment.

What you'll get

On successful completion of the theory and flight examination, you 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 that entitles candidates to fly or supervise a multi-rotor operation within 4km of an aerodrome with the aerodrome operator’s agreement.

Learning outcomes

After successfully completing this course you will:

  • be able to interpret 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
  • practise and comprehend radio telephony procedures and operations
  • meet the initial training requirements for CAA Rule Part 102 Operator Certificate using evidence of training by a Part 141-M6 training organisation.

Course content and structure

The Massey RPAS course (internal option) comprises two days of theory that introduces students to aspects of the aviation environment that are relevant to RPAS operations.

The RPAS flight examination is held on the third day of the internal course. Students then have six weeks to complete an online assessment which completes all RPAS course components.

The online option enables the theory modules to be undertaken online, followed by the usual online assessment. The student then travels to Palmerston North for a one-day in-person RPAS flight exam (refer dates as below for flight test days in 2024). The online option means the modules can be studied at the student’s convenience and are available 24/7.

Part 1: Theory

The theory course covers:

  • 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.

After completion of the Part 1 theory course, you will have up to two weeks to complete an online theory assessment and achieve a minimum 70% pass mark.

Part 2: Flight examination

After passing the theory course you will be able to sit a flight examination (day 3 of the in-person course). This includes:

  • classroom revision
  • practice scenarios
  • RPAS Flight Examination.

You will need to be competent operating your RPA unit in full manual or altitude hold mode without GPS position hold before attempting the RPAS Flight Examination. Students must have at least five hours of operational experience on an RPAS platform prior to the flight test.

  • The majority of the RPAS flight practical test is conducted indoors. GPS Failure and ‘Return to Home’ components of the practical assessment are conducted outdoors.
  • Candidates should bring their own RPAS units to the flight test.
  • In order to be awarded the full Massey University RPAS Certificate of Competency, a candidate’s RPAS unit should be able to be moved manually into ATTI mode during the flight test.

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

2024 Flight Test dates

  • Wednesday 21 February
  • Wednesday 13 March
  • Wednesday 17 April
  • Wednesday 15 May
  • Wednesday 12 June
  • Wednesday 17 July
  • Wednesday 14 August
  • Wednesday 18 September
  • Wednesday 16 October
  • Wednesday 13 November
  • Wednesday 18 December


Contact information

Contact the School of Aviation

Physical address

Massey University Aviation Centre

47 Airport Drive


Palmerston North

Find us on Google Maps.

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