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Flying near an aerodrome

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Can I fly a drone within 4km of an aerodrome?

Civil Aviation rules state that drones must stay 4km away from all airports and helipads – unless you follow the rules for flying closer.  See the information below about flying your drone in controlled and uncontrolled airspace near aerodromes. 

Another way to fly within 4km of an aerodrome is to operate what’s called a “shielded operation”.  This is a flight where your drone remains within 100 metres of, and below the top of, a natural or man-made object such as a building, tower or trees.

Check out the video below to help understand how to fly a shielded drone flight, and go to the Civil Aviation Authority website for more info.

Controlled vs uncontrolled aerodromes and helipads

Airways New Zealand manages air traffic control at 19 of the busiest airports around New Zealand. This is known as controlled airspace and extends much further than 4km (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 New Zealand.

AirShare drone pilot app map screen

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 4km of any aerodrome or helipad, you need to hold an approved qualification (or be supervised by someone with an approved qualification).  

To fly within 4km 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. 

Check out the AirShare app to learn more about airspace and where you can fly. 

Four things you need to know before flying near an aerodrome