Unmanned aircraft must use the right radio frequencies, so they don’t cause harmful interference to vital radio systems like aeronautical radio navigation systems, cellular phones, or emergency services.
People who use the wrong frequencies can be prosecuted under the Radiocommunications Act 1989 and the Radiocommunications Regulations 2001.
The most commonly used frequencies that are legal in New Zealand for remotely controlling unmanned aircraft are 433 MHz or 2.4 GHz, with 5.8 GHz being used for the transmission of video and audio content (not to be confused with radio voice, that is covered in the next section). Unmanned aircraft operators can use any of the frequencies listed in the General User Radio Licence for Short Range Devices(external link) and the General User Radio Licence for Aeronautical Control(external link). These are the only frequencies unmanned aircraft operated under Civil Aviation Rule Part 101 are permitted to use in New Zealand.
Because most radio equipment used in unmanned aircraft is developed overseas, this equipment often exceeds the frequency and / or power output limits that can be used lawfully in New Zealand. You need to check the product you are thinking of buying can legally be used in New Zealand before you purchase it.
Products that are compliant with New Zealand’s radio equipment requirements should have a Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) or R-NZ label.
More information is available on the Radio Spectrum Management website(external link).