Can I fly within 4kms of an airport or helipad?

February 6, 2020 Diane Hannay

There are two ways to fly a drone within 4kms of an airport or helipad - one is to do what's called a 'shielded operation'. Learn more here.

It can be tricky to find a safe area to fly your drone if you live within 4kms of an airport, helipad or aerodrome. That's because civil aviation rules state that, drones must stay 4kms away from all airports and helipads – unless you follow the rules for flying closer. This includes the helipads at hospitals, and also those used by helicopters conducting scenic flights.

A shielded operation gives you another option for flying within 4kms of an airport or helipad. Check out this video to help understand how to fly a shielded drone flight.

Controlled vs Uncontrolled Aerodromes and Helipads
Airways NZ manage air traffic control at 17 of the busiest airports around New Zealand. This is known as controlled airspace and extends much further than 4kms (these control zones are shown as pink in the AirShare app and in the image below). The remaining aerodromes and helipads do not have air traffic controllers and are referred to as uncontrolled aerodromes.

The blue circles shown in the image below and on the AirShare app indicate the 4km radius around all aerodromes and helipads in NZ.

To fly a drone in controlled airspace (the pink zones), you must either gain prior authorisation from Air Traffic Control (via the AirShare app) or fly your drone using a shielded operation. 

If you're flying an 'unshielded operation' within 4kms of any aerodrome or helipad, you need to hold an approved qualification (or be supervised by someone with an approved qualification). 

To fly within 4kms of an uncontrolled aerodrome, you also need to get permission from the aerodrome or helipad operator AND have an observer watching for aircraft while you are operating. Or alternatively, you can fly your drone using a shielded operation. Learn more about flying near an aerodrome or helipad here.

Check out the AirShare app to learn more about airspace and where you can fly. You can also request clearance from Air Traffic Control via the AirShare app.

Happy flying!

 

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