Restricted zones in orange include danger zones (low flying aircrafts). No Fly Zones in red. Source: CASA Drone Complier
Restricted zones in orange include danger zones (low flying aircrafts). No Fly Zones in red. Source: CASA Drone Complier

DRONES: Where you can and can't fly on the Northern Rivers

DRONES are growing in popularity and a photo or video from one may seem out of this world, but many people don't know the basic rules and regulations about their use.

Knowing where to fly your drone is important as it can impact airports and emergency services.

Different rules apply to commercial and recreational flyers, and not complying with the rules can result in large fines.

The Northern Rivers has many spaces where drone use is allowed, but there are several no-fly zones and fly caution zones scattered throughout the region.

 

Ballina Hospital and Ballina Byron Gateway Airport (in red) are No Fly Zones. Restricted zones in orange. Source: CASA Drone Complier
Ballina Hospital and Ballina Byron Gateway Airport (in red) are No Fly Zones. Restricted zones in orange. Source: CASA Drone Complier Jasmine Burke

Fly caution zones are areas where aircraft are known to operate at low altitudes.

Operating a drone in an emergency situation such as bushfires, floods, traffic accidents and other events, can represent a safety risk to manned aircraft. It can also disrupt emergency services.

Some no-fly zones in the Northern Rivers include in the proximity of the helicopter landing sites at Lismore Base Hospital, Lismore Airport and Ballina Byron Gateway Airport.

 

You must not fly within 5.5kms of Lismore Base Hospital. Source: CASA Drone Complier
You must not fly within 5.5kms of Lismore Base Hospital. Source: CASA Drone Complier Jasmine Burke

The largest no-fly zone is a military airspace, which follows the coastline all the way from Sandon in the south to Yamba, then moves inland north of the Clarence River and covers a large area west and north of Iluka towards Ballina.

 

Lismore Base Hospital and Casino and Lismore Airports (in red) are No Fly Zones. Restricted zones in orange. Source: CASA Drone Complier
Lismore Base Hospital and Casino and Lismore Airports (in red) are No Fly Zones. Restricted zones in orange. Source: CASA Drone Complier Jasmine Burke

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority website states drones must not be flown in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person or property.

CASA compiled a list of rules for drone users to follow, but they do not apply to all drone flyers.

Drone users are exempt if they hold a remote pilot licence (RePL) and operate according to a remotely piloted aircraft operator certificate (ReOC) or have authorisation from CASA.

Flying drones or other remotely piloted aircraft under 150kg for sport or recreational purposes are considered to be operating privately and are regulated by the provisions for model aircraft.

However, when flying for any form of economic gain, you may need to be licensed and certified as an operator, or work for a certified operator.

People who fly a drone under 2kg for commercial reasons can do so under the 'excluded' category. This means you'll need to notify CASA before flying within the standard operating conditions.

Download the Drone Complier app on your phone which illustrates where you can and cannot fly your drone.

Rules for flying drones

  • Must not fly drone higher than 120m above ground.
  • Must not fly drone over or near area affecting public safety or where emergency operations are under way (without prior approval).
  • Must not fly drone within 30m of people, unless other person is part of controlling or navigating drone.
  • Must fly only one drone at a time
  • If your drone weighs more than 100 grams you must keep your drone at least 5.5km away from controlled aerodromes (usually those with a control tower)

This includes:

  • Not operating drone within airfield boundary.
  • Not operating drone in the approach and departure paths of aerodrome.
  • Only fly during the day and keep drone within line of sight.
  • Must not fly over or above people. This includes festivals, sporting ovals, populated beaches, parks, busy roads and footpaths.
  • Must not operate drone in a way that creates a hazard to another aircraft, person or property.
  • Must not operate drone in prohibited or restricted areas.

Tips for flying within the law

  • Local council and/or national park laws may prohibit drone flights in certain areas.
  • Research the area you plan to fly and contact your council or national park if you're unsure.
  • Don't operate near emergency services aircraft.

Source: Civil Aviation Safety Authority



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