In standard RPAS operations, we must conduct operations as per the CASA rules and regulations, this means that we must (under normal conditions) operate more than 3 nautical miles (approx. 5.5km) from a controlled aerodrome such as Cairns, Mackay or Townsville. This puts much of major regional cities inside of an “RPAS Restricted Zone”. These Restricted Zones also exist around non controlled aerodromes and helicopter landing pads; but we can operate around these by following specific approved procedures.


In a previous blog we talked about the basic steps to gain an exemption. In this one we will explore what is required to be able to operate within 3NM of a controlled aerodrome. The following is a breakdown of how to apply for an exemption within 3NM of an aerodrome:

  1. Identify where you need to operate, the boundary of the area, on the ground in into the airspace;
  2. Identify the aerodrome and obtain the ERSA extract, relevant charts for the aerodrome;
  3. Identify when you wish to conduct the operation (in more than 6 weeks time);
  4. Identify the risks associated with the operation;
  5. Submit an area approval to CASA;

An now hopefully you have your instrument issued to you! Ensure that you read it very carefully to comply with all schedules and requirements of the instrument.


Our experience with this type of instrument has come from over 120 operations within 3 nautical miles of Townsville Aerodrome.  As a result of doing this many operations over a number of years, ATC has said this about us:


“From an ATC point of view we are comfortable that FlyFreely is a safe and reliable operator and you (they) go above and beyond any other UAV operator I have dealt with to ensure you (they) comply with regulations.” – 452 Squadron Leader Townsville


We will explore additional exemptions and delve even deeper into the specifics and some of the considerations that you as an operate need to take when conducting an RPAS RZ operation.


Note that the RPAS Restricted Zone is a term that has be coined by FlyFreely specifically for the purposes of easily communicating with other parties about the operations.