We are New Zealand’s specialist aviation safety and security regulator.
Our important work not only saves lives but also facilitates travel, recreation, commerce, and protects the environment. By ensuring a safe and secure aviation system, we provide confidence and safeguard the reputation of New Zealand, benefiting our country as a whole.
We operate under a set of laws, primarily the Civil Aviation Act 1990 (CA Act). Recently, the CA Act has been updated through the Civil Aviation Bill, which was passed in April 2023. The new CA Act will come into force after a 24-month transition period. In addition to the CA Act, we also have regulatory roles in health and safety within the civil aviation system, as defined by the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996.
The Authority has delegated many of its functions and powers under the CA Act and the HSWA to the Director of Civil Aviation, our Chief Executive. The Director, in turn, has the authority to further delegate powers to qualified and authorised staff. This delegation of responsibilities enables us to provide appropriate stewardship, leadership, and oversight of the aviation system.
Our Regulatory Safety and Security Strategy 2022-2027 outlines the approach we, the Civil Aviation Authority, take in fulfilling our regulatory role. This strategy helps our staff and stakeholders understand the nature of our role as a regulator and our approach to it. You can find the strategy on our website here:
Regulatory Safety and Security Strategy 2022–27
As a modern regulator, we base our decisions on intelligence-led risk assessment and evidence-based practices. Three guiding principles underpin our regulatory decisions:
Every year, the Minister of Transport provides us with a Letter of Expectations, outlining the New Zealand Government's expectations for our purpose and functions within the broader transport and policy settings. The safety standards set by the Minister of Transport are known as the Civil Aviation Rules (CARs). These rules are developed in consultation with us and the aviation community and serve the public interest. Advisory Circulars (ACs) provide additional details on meeting rule requirements, such as pilot licences and Safety Management Systems. More information about CAA rules and notices can be found here:
Aviation participants have a fundamental responsibility to act and operate safely and securely within the boundaries defined by their aviation document. To obtain an aviation document, participants must demonstrate that they are ‘fit and proper’ individuals who act responsibly both professionally and personally.
The CARs set the minimum standards for aviation safety, and once licensed or certificated, individuals or organisations must continually meet these standards. Failure to meet even the minimum standards can result in restrictions, licence or certificate revocation, or suspension.
Monitoring the aviation system is central to our role as a regulator. We have expanded our monitoring approach, considering various levels from the overall system to individuals. By embracing our legislative responsibilities and using a regulatory decision-making model, we aim to identify good practices and promote them within the industry.
To assess safety and security performance, we seek assurances from aviation participants through various sources, including audits, inspections, spot checks, investigations, safety analysis, medical checks, and review of international safety and security information. Operating certificates are issued for up to five years, and renewal applications are evaluated based on past performance, growth rate, nature of aircraft operation, and risk management.
Individual licence holders, such as pilots, aircraft engineers, and air traffic controllers, undergo regular checks to ensure their ongoing competence and compliance with standards.
We also acknowledge the advancements in aviation technologies. Through our Emerging Technologies Programme, we collaborate with stakeholders in the aerospace and aviation sectors to establish an effective ongoing regulatory interface. This allows for the safe and efficient integration of emerging technologies into the civil aviation system.
Investigating accidents is an essential part of our work. By understanding what happened, how it happened, and how to prevent similar incidents in the future, we can make aviation safer. We analyse information from accident reports to identify trends, allowing us to allocate resources more effectively.
We support civil aviation participants through safety education publications, courses, seminars, and advice, with a focus on areas of greatest safety concern. Our goal is to influence attitudes, change behaviour, and encourage aviation participants to exceed minimum safety requirements.
New Zealand is an active participant in the international aviation community and a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). We maintain strong relationships with similar authorities in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States. Additionally, we provide aviation assistance and advice to Pacific Island States.
New Zealand's modern aviation legislation, rules, safety system, and certification practices are recognised in bilateral agreements with other ICAO members.
New Zealand also plays a role in regional aviation security through its activities with the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO). PASO is an international organisation providing quality aviation safety and security service for its 10 Member States in the Pacific.
Air traffic control in New Zealand is managed by Airways New Zealand(external link), the sole air traffic service provider. Airways New Zealand was established in 1987 as a State-Owned Enterprise.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission(external link) (TAIC) investigates accidents with significant implications for transport safety. As the designated entity in New Zealand, TAIC meets ICAO expectations regarding accident and incident investigation.
The Ministry of Transport(external link) holds the role of the Government's lead agency for transport matters.