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The Comprehensive Guide to Flying a Drone Around Gold Coast Airport

Updated: Oct 10, 2023


drone image of a airport

Drone technology has revolutionised how we view the world, offering bird's-eye vistas and the ability to explore previously unreachable areas. For our industry, it has sometimes eliminated the use of a helicopter to get coastal shots. But as the drone community grows, so does the need to ensure the skies remain safe. If you've ever wondered about Flying a Drone in Controlled Airspace, this article offers insights based on expertise and first-hand experiences.


Unleash the power of technology and fly safely through controlled airspaces with our drones.


Introduction to Drones in Controlled Airspace


Flying drones in Gold Coast's controlled airspaces is no small task. It combines the excitement of technological innovation with the responsibility of sharing the sky with other manned aircraft. You can achieve successful and safe flights with careful planning, understanding the rules, and ensuring all the approvals and permissions are in place



History of Drone Regulations

Early Drone Uses and Restrictions

Back in the day, drones were primarily for military use. Over time, their applications expanded into photography, videography, agriculture, and the commercial sector, necessitating more straightforward regulations for everyone's safety.



The Evolution of Airspace Management

As drones became mainstream, airspace management had to evolve. Introducing controlled airspaces ensured the organised and safe coexistence of drones and, more significantly, manned aviation.


The Importance of Controlled Airspace

Safety Considerations

Controlled airspaces prioritise safety. This means following specific guidelines for drone pilots to avoid potential aerial collisions.

Traffic Management

Think of controlled airspaces like highways in the sky. Properly managing traffic ensures everyone gets where they're going safely.

Protecting Sensitive Areas

Drones can pose risks to privacy and security. Controlled airspaces protect areas like government buildings, military bases, or other sensitive zones such as Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast Airports.

Flying a Drone in Gold Coast's Controlled Airspace

Legal Requirements

Drones, just like any vehicle, have laws. Understanding these laws will keep you out of trouble and ensure the skies remain safe. To fly a drone in controlled airspace, a company must have the following:

A ReOC (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operators Certificate) is something that One Two Shoot Media has.

The pilot in command must have a RePL (Remote Pilot License) and AROC (Aeronautical Radio Operator Certificate)

Public Liability Insurance

Getting Permissions

Flying a controlled airspace requires permission from CASA. Platforms like OK2fly in Australia have streamlined the process, granting approvals in real time. But only at certain airports around Australia. Typically permissions can take anywhere from 3 months to 6 months to gain clearance to fly. So make sure you plan well in advance!

Key Do's and Don'ts

Remember: always prioritise safety, never fly near other aircraft, and be wary of weather conditions.

The Role of Air Traffic Controllers

Their Responsibility

Air traffic controllers are the unsung heroes of the skies. They coordinate aerial ballets, ensuring each aircraft, including drones, moves smoothly and safely.

Interaction with Drone Pilots

A harmonious relationship between drone pilots and air traffic controllers is crucial. Open communication lines help in preventing mishaps.

Different Types of Controlled Airspaces

Classifications

Each airspace has unique rules and characteristics from Class A to Class E.


What Drone Pilots Need to Know

Each classification affects how you fly your drone, whether that's altitude restrictions or needing prior permissions. Most of the time, drones will be flying in Glass G airspace, but around Airports, it will be Class C (C being Controlled airspace)


How to Identify Controlled Airspaces

Using Maps and Apps

Modern technology makes it a breeze to spot controlled airspaces. CASA-approved safety Apps like Ok2fly or OpenSky offer easy visualisation of the airspace or area you wish to fly in

Recognizing Aerial Landmarks

Sometimes, specific landmarks indicate you're near controlled airspaces. For instance, an airport or military base might hint at the type of airspace above.

Pre-flight Checklists for Drone Pilots

Equipment Check

Always ensure your drone is in tip-top shape before taking off. This includes checking the battery, ensuring all parts are secure, and verifying the software is up-to-date. Zone or area unlock codes have been entered into your drone to avoid geo-fences.

Weather Conditions

Weather can impact your drone's performance. Always check forecasts and avoid flying in adverse conditions.

Flight Path Planning

Knowing where you're going and the route you'll take minimises potential issues in the sky. Your flight documentation submitted to CASA will tell them where and what height you intend to fly at.

Challenges in Controlled Airspaces

Overcoming Common Obstacles

Being prepared is your best bet to overcome challenges from interference to unexpected obstacles.


Training and Certifications

Required Courses

While casual flying might not require certifications, flying in controlled airspaces often does. Ensure you're trained and certified.

Benefits of Proper Training

You become a safer and more competent drone pilot with training, ensuring your flights are smooth and mishap-free.


Personal Experiences: Close Calls and Lessons Learned

Every pilot, at some point, faces challenges. Sharing these experiences helps others learn and avoid similar situations.

Advancements in Drone Technology

New Safety Features

From obstacle detection to automated landing and returning home, modern drones are equipped to handle many challenges.

Improved Communication Systems

Communicating with other aircraft and control towers is essential. Modern drones now offer enhanced communication capabilities.

FAQs

How do I know if I'm in a controlled airspace? Utilise tools like Ok2fly or OpenSky or refer to official airspace maps available on Ozrunways or online.

Is it illegal to fly a drone without permission in controlled airspaces? Yes, flying without permission can lead to legal consequences and safety issues.


Can I fly my drone at night in controlled airspaces? Generally, night flights require special permissions and considerations, especially in controlled zones. At One Two Shoot Media, we have a CASA exception that allows us to fly at night in Glass G Airspace. However, in Class C, we will still need CASA approval to fly around Gold Coast Airport, Brisbane Airport, or Sunshine Coast Airport.


What is the maximum altitude I can fly my drone? While it varies, the limit is 400 feet above ground level in many regions.


Do I need special training to fly in controlled airspaces? Understanding the nuances of controlled airspace flying often requires specialised training, licensing, and insurance.


How can I communicate with air traffic controllers? Drone Pilots typically communicate with Air Traffic Control using a hand-held Aviation radio. Alternatively, mobile phone communication is sometimes preferred by some towers to allow manned aviation priority over the radio.


Conclusion

Flying a Drone in Controlled Airspace is a testament to how far technology has come and how integrated drones have become in our modern world. With the right knowledge, tools, and respect for regulations, the skies can be safe and exciting whilst completing your creative or commercial project with a drone. This article is written from the perspective of commercial drone operations. You must check CASA" 's rules and regulations for fun or recreational flying.


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