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Drone Flying Near Military Airports in Australia: Rules and Authorisations

As professional drone pilots, it’s important to prioritise safety and obey the rules of the air. This is especially true when flying near military airports, which house some of Australia’s most special aircraft; from the Dassault Falcon 7X VIP transports, to the ear-piercing F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters. These planes sometimes operate well outside of the usual flight envelopes that commercial aviation does (making them unpredictable) and aren’t regulated by CASA. Instead CASA, the Department of Defence, and Airservices Australia work together to harmonise civil and military regulatory systems to improve aviation in Australia. This guide will take you through what you need to know so that you can fly your drone safely around Australian military aerodromes and without upsetting the RAAF. 

Operating nearby military airfields has a special set of rules you’ll need to follow which are different to the usual CASA flight authorisations. To begin with, you’ll need to obtain a RePL and fly under a ReOC.  

Under 400ft 

If you intend to fly under 400ft and within 3nm of a military aerodrome (you can check using the Aerologix airspace map from Apple App Store and Google Play Store), then you’ll need:

  1. To include a copy of Instrument 23/23 to your ReOC operator’s manual.
  2. Approval from the military control tower prior to operations. Contact information can be found in the ERSA
  3. To have a NOTAM issued by CASA, the military control tower, or a NOTAM authorised person. 

Above 400ft or BVLOS

For flights above 400ft or BVLOS and within 3nm of a military aerodrome, you’ll need:

  1. To include a copy of Instrument 23/23 to your ReOC operator’s manual.
  2. Approval from the military control tower prior to operations. Contact information can be found in the ERSA
  3. To submit an application to CASA, who will notify the Department of Defence for approval.
  4. To have a NOTAM issued by CASA, the military control tower, or a NOTAM authorised person.

Luckily the RAAF have created a website that makes applying for approvals much more streamlined. We have listed these down conveniently for you. Once on the site, click on the 3 lined menu at the top right to put through a one-time application, or create an account:

New South Wales:

Nowra – https://applytofly.com.au/nsw/nowra/
Richmond – As of 15th June 2023, Richmond have ceased approvals via the Apply to Fly website. Fill the form here and email to ric.atc@defence.gov.au, with at least 48 hours prior notice to operation commencement.
Williamtown – https://applytofly.com.au/nsw/williamtown/

Northern Territory:

Darwin – https://applytofly.com.au/nt/darwin/
Tindal – https://applytofly.com.au/nt/tindal/

Queensland:

Amberley – https://applytofly.com.au/qld/amberley/
Oakey – https://applytofly.com.au/qld/oakey/
Townsville – https://applytofly.com.au/qld/townsville/

South Australia:

Edinburgh – https://applytofly.com.au/sa/edinburgh/

Victoria:

East Sale – https://applytofly.com.au/vic/eastsale/

Western Australia:

Gingin – https://applytofly.com.au/wa/gingin/
Pearce – https://applytofly.com.au/wa/pearce/

To determine if you’re flying near a military aerodrome, we made a map for you below.

In conclusion, operating drones near military airports requires a different approach as the military have their own approval processes. Military planes sometimes fly at low altitudes and high speeds, usually without warning, so it’s pertinent to ensure that everyone is aware of your operations to make sure the skies are safe for everyone. 

Drone Flying Near Military Airports in Australia: Rules and Authorisations

New South Wales

RAAF Base Glenbrook, Glenbrook

RAAF Base Richmond, Richmond

RAAF Base Wagga, Wagga Wagga

RAAF Base Williamtown, Williamtown

Northern Territory

RAAF Base Darwin, Darwin

RAAF Base Tindal, Katherine

Queensland

RAAF Base Amberly, Ipswich

RAAF Base Scherger (near Weipa)

RAAF Base Townsville, Townsville

South Australia

RAAF Base Edinburgh, Edinburgh

RAAF Base Woomera Range Complex

Victoria

RAAF Base East Sale, Sale

RAAF Williams, Laverton Base, Laverton

RAAF Williams, Point Cook Base, Point Cook

Western Australia

RAAF Curtin (near Derby)

RAAF Gingin, Gingin

RAAF Learmonth (near Exmouth)

RAAF Base Pearce, Bullsbrook

How to register your drone
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