Aotearoa New Zealand’s Inaugural Aerospace Summit

Aotearoa New Zealand’s Inaugural Aerospace Summit

Recently we held our inaugural New Zealand Aerospace Summit at Te Pae in Ōtautahi Christchurch. The event brought together individuals from every walk of Aerospace, to showcase some of the latest and greatest innovations happening right here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Some of our keynote speakers included Deputy Director of NASA, Pamela Melroy, and Peter Beck from Rocket Lab, and in addition to keynote speakers, we also hosted a number of panel discussions spanning everything from Women in Space to Aerospace and High-Altitude Policy. Be sure to check out the post-event recap video here!


The New Zealand Aerospace Summit was the very first of its kind, being the first Aerospace Summit held here in Aotearoa New Zealand. With over 300 attendees, from startups, businesses, individuals and passionate students, it’s clear to see that the Aerospace Sector is already taking off. In addition to our already jam-packed lineup of speakers and panels, we included a unique chance for a showcase of Aerospace in New Zealand, through an exhibition room, with actual prototypes from Wisk, Dawn Aerospace, Pyper Vision and Kea Aerospace.

The event opened with a Mihi Whakatau, and speeches from Mayor Dalziel, Kea Aerospace CEO Mark Rocket and NASA Deputy Director Pamela Melroy.

I’m so personally thrilled to be speaking to the New Zealand Space Community because you WILL be a critical part of the future

NASA Deputy Director Pamela Melroy on the Aerospace Industry in Aotearoa New Zealand
NASA Deputy Administrator Pamela Melroy speaking to the NZAS

Following the Deputy Director Pamela Melroy’s speech, our second keynote speaker, Peter Beck, CEO and Founder of Rocket Lab delivered another powerful speech on the opportunities that the Aerospace Sector represents, not only to the economy, but also to further humanities reach to the stars. He mentioned a number of projects that Rocket Lab were working on, including a brand new rocket called ‘Neutron,’ but also highlighted the achievements made so far, including the establishment of the Launch Complex on the Mahia Peninsula.

‘I think New Zealand has a huge opportunity in the Space Industry, and if you look across other nations, quite frankly a lot of them look across to New Zealand in absolute admiration’

Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck on Leaders in the Space industry
Minister Nash announcing the Government plan for Aerospace

Following various engaging panels were Minister Nash and Minister Verrall, announcing a brand new Government funding plan for the sector. Minister Nash mentioning ‘Christchurch IS a hub of Aerospace,’ and backing up his support of the sector announcing ‘The Government is pursuing a range of measures to support economic growth, including 8 industry transformation plans that set out a joint path for sectors and the government to grow priority areas of the economy.’

‘The Aerospace Sector is a prime example of the type of innovative high value, R&D intensive industry that can deliver on these goals’

Minister Nash on growing Priority Areas of the Economy
Minister Nash and Minister Verrall with President of Aerospace Christchurch, and Kea Aerospace CEO Mark Rocket

But fear not, the summit was not all speeches and panels, with two networking, and food breaks on the day, and a further post-summit networking drinks event. In addition to the breaks, we put on a number of truly ‘out of this world’ performances, with breakdancing Stormtroopers, alongside a band playing the Star Wars theme, and a performance of David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ and ‘Space Oddity.’ Furthermore reinforcing the importance of Matariki, a performance in a Harakeke was presented. The Harakeke weave symbolizing the gathering of people, the weave of community, culture, past, present and future.

The Harakeke Dress Performance

We look forward to hosting our Aerospace Whānau again next year, with a bigger and better summit next year!

Farewell to NASA’s SOFIA

Farewell to NASA’s SOFIA

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is being farewelled after ten years of science in the skies with its final visit to Christchurch

This was SOFIA’s seventh visit to Christchurch, and 15 take-off’s were completed around our Southern skies before heading back to its home base California, with the SOFIA programme ending on September 30. 

The modified Boeing 747 aircraft is a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and is fitted out with a special door built to open mid-flight for use of observational instruments, including a 2.7 metre reflecting telescope.

Flying above 99 percent of the water vapour in Earth’s atmosphere at 38,000 – 45,000 feet, SOFIA is able to collect infrared radiation, which is absorbed by water vapour and doesn’t reach ground-based observatories. SOFIA flies 10-hour overnight missions, and studies a range of objects and phenomena, including cosmic rays, stellar feedback, and cosmic magnetic fields using two instruments – a High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera Plus (HAWC+), and a German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT).

Image Credit: Instagram.  @sg_planespottingchc  Sophie and Graham

“Prior to moving to Christchurch, I worked for SOFIA as a Science Flight Planner, Mission Director and Mission Operations Manager overseeing the science ground support team,” says Karina Leppik, who worked on SOFIA while it was in Christchurch this year.

While SOFIA is in Christchurch this year, I am helping with various aspects of the mission including flying as an assistant to the Mission Director and assisting with the science ground support, and I’m excited to help the SOFIA team take data that will finish off some groundbreaking science projects.” Just one of the many groundbreaking science projects include HAWC+.

Using HAWC+, SOFIA’s investigations have started by mapping the magnetic fields of the central regions of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Able to detect cosmic magnetic fields on many scales, including star formation scales, SOFIA will be looking at magnetic fields in filaments of material in our galaxy. Filaments are thread-like structures full of cold gas and dust, and a team of scientists will be researching what role magnetic fields play in star formation in filaments ( – SOFIA in NZ).

Image Credit: Instagram.  @sg_planespottingchc  Sophie and Graham

Cosmic rays produced by our sun have been measured and understood by researchers, but those originating outside our solar system are less well understood. Using hydride molecules, scientists are investigating the abundance of cosmic rays in environments outside of our solar system ( – SOFIA in NZ).

However due to unprecedented damage to SOFIA, caused by winds shifting a boarding staircase along the aircraft, the team were unable to complete the expected study using GREAT (German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies) on Helium Hydride, while in New Zealand.

Image Credit: Instagram.  @sg_planespottingchc  Sophie and Graham

As a part of SOFIA’s final stay in Christchurch, we were able to gain some unique insight with the Deputy Director of SOFIA Science Mission Operations, Bernhard Schulz. 

“SOFIA made New Zealand its temporary home for a last time to take advantage of the unique visibility conditions of the southern skies, as well as the particular low water vapour content of the atmosphere in the southern winter.” 

The water vapour in the air varies depending on the time of year. For example, a pattern observed by NASA’s Earth Observatory shows that water vapour amounts over land areas decrease more in winter months than summer months ( – Water Vapour). 

In addition to the unconventional operating conditions required, SOFIA can switch between 5 unique instruments that are attached to its perhaps last, large, airplane telescope to observe the far-infrared portion (30µm-300µm) of the spectrum. SOFIA’s unique ability to detect polarised dust with a high degree of accuracy, alongside molecular and atomic spectral lines, makes it a scientific tool like no other. 

Image Credit: Instagram.  @sg_planespottingchc  Sophie and Graham

“SOFIA is also complementary to the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which covers the near and mid-infrared up to 28µm,” Bernhard says.

“Even though JWST is a bigger telescope in space and thus far more sensitive, SOFIA still provides additional capabilities in that wavelength range, not available to JWST, like high resolution spectroscopy and bright source imaging.”

There have been many important discoveries made by SOFIA, Bernhard says, but the one most noted in the scientific world was the first observation of Helium Hydride. This was first observed by SOFIA on a mission in Palmdale, USA.

“Helium hydride is deemed to be the first molecule that formed after the Big Bang. SOFIA also detected a number of other species in the interstellar medium for the first time, but also atomic oxygen in the upper atmosphere (mesosphere and thermosphere) of our own planet, which has important implications for climate models.” 

If you’re interested in the other scientific discoveries made by SOFIA, have a look at the brochure on the SOFIA website.

Further Reading:

Christchurch Airport Video Tour of SOFIA – here

NASA SOFIA Image Gallery – here

Image Credit: Instagram.  @sg_planespottingchc  Sophie and Graham
Meet Up #25 Innovation vs Regulation

Meet Up #25 Innovation vs Regulation

August 2, 2022

At this months Meet Up in Wellington, we heard an interesting discussion on balancing innovation with regulation.

We heard from some interesting speakers on innovation, regulation and projects happening right here in New Zealand.

Associates can check out the recording here:

If you’re not an associate, we’d love for you to join us! Register here:

This months meetup included these presentations:

Committee Update: Shaun Johnson 

Speaker 1: Peter Johnson, Nova Systems 

Speaker 2: Catherine MacGowen, Wisk Aero

Speaker 3: Clinton Cardozo, OneReg

Speaker 4: Keith Manch, CAA NZ

Speaker 5: Randy Pollock, Robinson Institute 

A special thank you to our Event Sponsor Nova Systems!

Christchurch Aerospace Challenge winner announced

Christchurch Aerospace Challenge winner announced

Thursday 23 June. The winner of the Christchurch Aerospace Challenge was announced at an awards ceremony yesterday, which showcased the rising talent working on aerospace innovations across New Zealand with a focus on aerial imagery technology.

UAS & Woods was selected as the winner from an impressive pool of local innovators, and was awarded a $30,000 contract with the Christchurch City Council to trial and validate their solution, which will deliver radical improvements to the way the organisation captures aerial imagery.

UAS & Woods developed innovative, smart mapping pods that can be rapidly deployed on a range of aircraft to gather fast aerial mapping data in a more sustainable way.
Christchurch City Council Smart Christchurch Manager Michael Healy says the winning idea has exciting potential.

“Aerial imagery is important for decision-making in cities and regions, but the current process is slow and costly. This solution will improve that process and be invaluable for work the Council carries out, such as 3D modelling and monitoring air pollution and water levels.”

UAS & Woods says it was a privilege to be selected from such a high calibre of finalists.

“We are really excited to continue our journey of innovation, and can’t wait to get our system out mapping Canterbury. Thank you to the challenge organisers and judges for such a great competition.”

As well as being a way to find technological solutions to real life problems, the challenge aims to develop a strong pipeline of innovation to support Canterbury’s growing and globally successful aerospace sector.

Nick Bryan, Acting GM Strategy, Insights and Policy of ChristchurchNZ says that as the city’s economic development agency, they have been on a mission to ignite bold ambition in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

“The aerospace sector has jumped on board our ship and launched this bold ambition right alongside us. We have all the right ingredients for our own sustainable aerospace and future transport industry and we are showing the world how it’s done.”

Alexandra Stuthridge, Commercialisation Manager at the Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet), says it’s fantastic to see the aerospace community gather to support Aotearoa’s strong pipeline of aerial innovation.

“New Zealand’s aerospace sector is stretching what’s possible for global aerospace technology and capability. We are delighted to support the 2022 Christchurch Aerospace Challenge, gathering bright minds, and getting their world-leading ideas recognised and ready to disrupt aerial imagery capture globally.”

UAS & Woods was one of three finalists, who were each awarded $10,000 grants in an earlier judging round to develop their innovative ideas. They received mentoring and support from Challenge partners and the local innovation ecosystem to help progress their proposals.

The two runners-up were Swoop Aero and Versatile Airborne Radars. Swoop Aero’s proven technology platform has safely delivered over 800,000 items across 14,500 flights in seven countries since 2017. For this Challenge, Swoop adapted their technology to a new use case, aerial data collection, to help build and strengthen the world-leading aerospace industry in Christchurch.

Versatile Airborne Radars proposed a versatile snow radar for drones and aircrafts augmenting satellite information in the vertical dimension, to address the challenge of losing snow and ice that our world is facing.

The three finalists pitched their solutions to an expert judging panel at the awards ceremony held at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

The Challenge is delivered through a partnership between ChristchurchNZ and the Christchurch City Council and is proudly supported by the University of Canterbury, Aerospace Christchurch and KiwiNet.

More information can be found on

Contact details for winner:
Bevan Lewell

Maksym Khovalko

Meet Up #24 Go Your Drone Way

Meet Up #24 Go Your Drone Way

June 14, 2022

At this months Meet Up, we had an update and overview on current and future drone/unmanned aerial vehicle technology and projects happening right here in New Zealand!

A special thank you to our Event Sponsor Bank of New Zealand!

Growing New Zealand’s Prosperity By Accelerating Safe Growth For Companies
Brandon Jackson, General Manager Sectors, Bank of New Zealand
Bank of New Zealand’s Growth Sectors team ambition is to grow New Zealand’s prosperity by growing New Zealand’s businesses and business people. Seeking to accelerate safe growth for companies and sunrise high-productivity industries by bringing BNZ’s support in the form of capital and expert connections as early as possible. We heard from Brandon Jackson, General Manager Growth Sectors at BNZ, who leads a small team of specialist bankers focused on growing traditional SME business, newer industries such as Tech, Health, Aerospace, and increasing capability in bankers and their customers. Brandon is passionate about and ambitious for New Zealand’s opportunities in the world, and excited about the role BNZ’s Growth Sectors can play in achieving them.

Taking The Pilot Out Of The Sky
Sam Vye, Co-Founder – Syos Aerospace
Syos is on a mission to disrupt the $48bn global helicopter industry for commercial operations, targeting agriculture, forestry and heavy cargo logistics. With 200kg payload, 2 hour flight endurance and over 200km range, the Syos UAV is a true work-horse of the sky for aerial missions. Sam talked about our UAV development in Tauranga, our future pathway, and our past history of developing heavy-lift UAV for conservation.

The Airspace Integration Trial Programme
Tim Boyle, Program Manager – Airspace Integration Trials, MBIE
The Airspace Integration Trials programme was established to facilitate the safe testing, development and market validation of advanced uncrewed aircraft, and accelerate their integration into our aviation system. It builds on the potential for innovation under New Zealand’s current Civil Aviation Rules, providing a mechanism for the government to work with leading, and innovative domestic and international industry partners. Tim provided an update on the successes of the programme so far, and the challenges that lie ahead.

Autonomous Drones In Agriculture
Scott Spooner, Chief Technology Officer, SPS Automation (Aeronavics Limited New Zealand )
SPS Automation and Aeronavics are bringing the benefits of autonomous drone systems to the agriculture sector. From multiple spray aircraft for controlling sparsely infested wilding pine areas to fully automated, task management drones sitting in hangers on farms. Uncrewed aerial vehicles are the step-change in farm productivity, precision agriculture and invasive plant control. Scott gave an overview of the technology and beyond visual line of sight operations.

From First Responders To Biosecurity
Dr Adriel Kind, Senior Research Engineer, University of Canterbury
The Wireless Research Centre (WRC) team: WRC will share some of its recent “Drones to the rescue” research activities. University of Canterbury’s (UC) drone lab is headed by the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department (CSSE) and WRC, with support from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department (ECE). UC’s Drone Lab conducts research with a number of other departments at UC, such as Forestry, and collaborates with national and international groups.

Reimagining Regulation with Clint Cardozo at OneReg

Reimagining Regulation with Clint Cardozo at OneReg

On a mission to change aerospace regulation in New Zealand for the better, OneReg CEO Clint Cardozo tells us about his journey into aerospace from beginnings in visual art, and how OneReg is helping to streamline regulatory processes to help businesses get on with what they do best.

Can you tell me a bit about your career path and what led you to the role you’re in today?

My career began in art and design. I came to NZ as an international student to study visual art and the constructs of identity in photography. After graduating, like most immigrants, finding work to match my previous work experience was challenging. About the same time, Apple was reinventing the way content was created and distributed with its new iPads and iPhones. It seemed like a good idea at the time to start a new media design company focused on creating digital software experiences. A few years later I found myself at Air New Zealand as part of its digital transformation team, where I was exposed to some of the inefficiencies that come with being part of a heavily regulated industry.

As Covid hit the aviation industry, I began my Masters in Commercialisation at the University of Auckland – this enabled my co-founders and I to bring our idea of digitising the regulatory compliance process to support the aviation industry to life, and ultimately the formation of OneReg.

Can you tell me about your role at OneReg? What does your day-to-day look like?

My key focus has to do with prioritisation. As a startup with limited resources and big ambitions, it’s always a challenge to figure where to dedicate our focus and ideas. As the software is starting to get more traction in the market, I spend a lot of time speaking to customers so I can truly understand their challenges and how we might evolve to support them better. Our goal at OneReg is to create as much value as possible for our customers, making it easy for them to get on with the business of flying, all while building a successful business. I also try to carve out dedicated time for my mental and physical health and being present with my family every day.  

The OneReg team

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Working in the aerospace sector is exciting and seeing what our platform enables aerospace businesses to do is what drives us. Also, when people see how OneReg eases the regulatory burden, it’s a great feeling knowing we’ve made their jobs, and lives, easier. I work with some truly talented and experienced people who drive me to be better. I have a high level of trust in their abilities and am passionate about what we are creating together. The way we are tackling the digitisation of regulatory information is novel, unique and complex. It’s this complexity and the curiosity that drives us all and pushes us to be better!


What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your work?

The biggest challenge for any startup CEO is creating enough commercial and strategic value for your customers, investors, and partners before the money runs out. Striking the right balance is a great challenge. We also started OneReg at the height of the pandemic. I mean, every startup is hard, but starting an aviation business amidst a global pandemic is taking it to the extreme! I figure the challenges we’ve faced have only made the team more resilient and committed. Challenges create the catalyst for the OneReg team to build a better, sustainable and more resilient business.

What’s the driver behind OneReg? What do you hope to achieve?

I couldn’t understand why there was so much transactional friction in the regulatory process. The volume of paperwork and compliance to keep on top of for any aerospace operator is monumental. If we want the aviation sector to come back and innovate faster, the chokepoint is the largely manual processes in compliance management. The tools that were available on the market were either too expensive or cumbersome to use, further compounding the problem. All the generated information was ultimately exported to Word and PDF files, which then created more work for the regulator to sieve through.

We figured that if the regulatory processes became more streamlined, this would lead to more innovation and new business models – we consider this a success. We also want New Zealand to be in a position to lead the growing space sector, and if OneReg gives New Zealand a strategic advantage to do so, our vision would be realised.

Check out the OneReg Explainer video below:

What does the inclusion of OneReg in the CAA certification process mean for aerospace participants?

It means that operators can now have the confidence that their internal compliance information and expositions to the CAA are all streamlined and efficient. OneReg has tools to significantly speed up the management of compliance and safety information, not just for aerospace participants but also the Regulator, making the whole ecosystem digitally enabled. It means faster approval times, more accurate information, and audit tracking – and means our customers can get flying faster and focus on the part of their businesses that matter most to them.

OneReg reduces the burden of compliance, taking the stress out of it, and makes it cost and resource effective overall. With our capability to link legislation to operating information, OneReg will be instrumental in mapping the impact of changing regulations to all aerospace organisations with real-time data.

Why do you think Canterbury is an ideal location for an aerospace hub?

All the cool aerospace companies seem to be popping up in Canterbury. It feels like we are missing out being up here in Auckland! Time for OneReg to move out of Auckland, perhaps?

What do you see as big growth opportunities in Canterbury in the aerospace sector?

It seems like Canterbury has a distinct advantage of having the density and diversity of aerospace companies in the region. We are already seeing this create new and novel opportunities in the sector as it grows – innovation tends to thrive when there’s diverse activity. But I preface this by saying that NZ in general needs to think more globally than locally. To support Aerospace Christchurch, we also have a special offer of 20% off for all Associates. Give me a shout and I will get you set up!

How do you see your work, and the aerospace sector, changing in the next 10 years?

Between the pandemic, geopolitics, and climate change, every aerospace business simply must evolve into more sustainable practices which includes regulation management. Regulations are key to a safe and sustainable aerospace sector; it just requires different tools to allow for the volume of participants to enter the sector. OneReg plays a small, but critical, part in this giant puzzle to get to this Final Frontier.