Airspace information provider AirMap has partnered with Airways to trial unmanned traffic management (UTM) drone technology in New Zealand.

Drone operators will now be able to use AirMap’s iOS and Android apps to request airspace approvals, required by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Approvals for using airspace are needed in Christchurch, Queenstown, and Wanaka airports. Permission is also required in public lands in the Christchurch City, Selwyn, and Queenstown Lakes District Council, including parks and reserves.

During the three month UTM trial, the AirMap airspace management dashboard will be used by participating locations to approve flight plans and share real-time updates with drone operators.

“The trial is an important step in investigating how Airways could develop a nationwide UTM system that safely integrates UAVs.”

Information will be shared about the location of events, community gatherings, emergencies, and more. This information will be published immediately to the AirMap app.

Using the app, drone operators can plan safer flights and get up-to-date information on changing airspace conditions before and during their flights.

AirMap has requested commercial and recreational drone operators to participate in the trial. The aim of the trial is to significantly simplify and streamline the authorisation process.

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Airways chief executive Graeme Sumner said: “The trial is an important step in investigating how Airways could develop a nationwide UTM system that safely integrates UAVs into New Zealand’s wider air traffic control network.

“There is potential for New Zealand to become a test-bed for the UAV industry through the implementation of a system that supports growth and development in a safe manner.”