Drone Restrictions in Australia

Drone Restrictions in Australia airport

Airship Solutions has all certificates, licences and insurance to operate and fly at restricted areas in Australia.

There is no more exquisite photography in the world than drone photography. Being considered as the biggest and most significant development in the field of photography, the drone has made it possible to capture the world’s most stunning places and views.
This sky-high flying camera can reach the most challenging places to get, a significant breakthrough in photography. Therefore, if you are an aerial photography enthusiast, investing in a drone would be wise.

However, just because a drone can reach anywhere doesn’t mean it can be flown anywhere. And especially if you are an Australian resident, you have to note that certain drone restrictions have been set up in the legislation.
Since failure to comply with these restrictions could lead to being penalized, all drone operators must understand the laws and regulations that govern drone operations in Australia. This article will help you understand these restrictions well so that you can enjoy drone photography in Australia to the full.

Rules for Flying a Drone in Australia

According to Australia’s CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority), it is legal to fly drones in Australia. However, people who fly drones are expected to understand and comply with the drone legislation. This drone legislation requires each person to adhere to the following vital rules for flying a drone:

  • You should not fly a drone higher than 400 feet (120 meters) above the ground.
  • You should fly your drone only during the day. Also, always fly your drone within a clear visual line of sight – In other words, whenever flying a drone, you should be able to see it with your eyes and not through a device.
  • You should fly your drone away from other people – There should be a distance of at least 30 meters between where you are flying the drone and people.
  • You should fly only one UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) at a time.
  • Drones that weigh more than 100 grams should be kept away from controlled aerodromes/airports for a distance of at least 5.5km.
  • You should never fly a drone above people, such as over beaches, sports ovals, parks, and public/social events or gatherings.
  • Unless you have prior approval, you should never fly a drone over areas where emergency operations are being carried out or near areas affecting public safety – These areas include regions with firefighting operations, police operations, search and rescue activities.
  • Always respect personal privacy – Do not record any activities or photography without the consent of owners.

Operations Within a 3nm Radius of an Aerodrome/Airport
This part of Australian legislation has proven to be the most confusing among many drone flyers. So, what does ‘Operations within a three nautical mile (nm) radius of an aerodrome’ really mean?

To understand this particular restriction, you need to keep in mind three key facts:

  • An aerodrome/Airport is a place where flight operations take place. It could be a small general aviation airfield, a military airbase, or even a large commercial airport.
  • A distance of 3nm is approximately 5.5km.
  • Drone restrictions on operations within a 3nm radius vary depending on whether the aerodrome is controlled, non-controlled, or is an HLS (Helicopter Landing Site).
  1. Operations Within a Controlled Aerodrome/Airport

    A controlled aerodrome/Airport is that which has an operating control tower. To operate a drone within a 3nm radius of such controlled aerodromes, the Australian drone legislation requires you to have permission from both Airservices Australia and CASA (the Civil Aviation Safety Authority).
    However, note that Australia has set restrictions relative to the separation standards of human-crewed aircraft (helicopters and planes) and drones. These restrictions make it very hard, even almost illegal, for Airservices Australia to approve commercial drone operations at or within a 3nm radius of the controlled aerodromes/airports.

  2. Operations Within a Non-Controlled Aerodrome/Airport

    In a non-controlled aerodrome/airport, there is no operational Air Traffic Control (ATC). While these airfields might have control towers, they do not provide any ATC services. Also, non-controlled aerodromes include aerodromes that usually offer ATC services, but the services are no longer available.
    Generally, drone operations within a non-controlled aerodrome/airport are considered possible and lawful under Australia’s drone legislation. However, the drone pilot should be certified or licensed. Besides, the drone pilot should avoid flying within the following three dangerous areas:

    • The Movement Areas
    • The FATO (Final Approach and Take-off) areas – These are regions from which the final phase of take-off is started or where the final approach of landing/hovering is completed. It could either be on land or water.
    • Areas where the drone can create a hazard to aircraft flying within the region.
  3. Operations Within a Helicopter Landing Site (HLS)

    When we talk of helicopter landing sites (HLS), we don’t refer to any regular HLS, but HLS with an instrument approach. To fly a drone within these specific HLS, you will need to be a licensed drone operator and have a CASA approval certificate. Otherwise, only the instruments’ HLS are allowed to be flown within a 3nm radius of a helicopter landing site.
    It is also important to note that some particular types of drone operations require the pilots to obtain direct approval from the airspace authorities themselves. An excellent example of airspaces that will require you to get permission from the authorities is the Wollongong Hospital Helicopter Landing Site.

    To fly your drone over the Wollongong HLS, you will have to get approval from the Base Manager and helicopter pilot, in addition to getting a CASA approval certificate.

    The following is a list of other HLS that have instrument approaches in Australia:

    • Maclean Hospital
    • Tully Hospital
    • Facing Island
    • Westmead Hospital
    • Newcastle Westpac Base
    • Charlie
    • Gosford District Hospital
    • Mossman Hospital
    • Wollongong Hospital
    • Merriwa Hospital
    • Lithgow Medical
    • Victor Island West
    • Seabuoy


Indeed, drones are more than just remote-controlled fun toys for photo enthusiasts; they are a revolutionary advancement in photography. With this unmanned camera, you get to experience the best aerial photography in the world.
However, if you are to enjoy drone photography in Australia fully, you need to familiarize yourself with the drone restrictions put in place. This article has discussed the necessary regulations that you need to know. So, remember to adhere to these while you have fun and explore the beautiful Australian scenery!