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 for unmanned aircraft in New Zealand are 433 MHz or 2.4 GHz for remote control, along with 5.8 GHz for video and audio links. Unmanned aircraft can use any of the frequencies 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 that unmanned aircraft governed under Part 101 are permitted to use in New Zealand.

Because most unmanned aircraft equipment is developed overseas, it often exceeds the frequency and power limits required for use in New Zealand. You need to check the product you buy can legally be used in New Zealand before you buy it.

This is usually shown by a RCM or R-NZ label.

More information is available on the Radio Spectrum Management website(external link).

Dedicated spectrum band plans and licensing for unmanned aircraft

The CAA, in conjunction with Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) at the Ministry if Business, Innovation and Enterprise (MBIE) have a developed a position paper on opening up a new band of spectrum at 5 GHz for unmanned aircraft command and control.

Read the paper on the Aeronautical telecommunications page.

 Ask us about unmanned aircraft

If you have any questions about this topic, use our contact form, or email rpas@caa.govt.nz