Airspace can be designated as controlled or special use airspace.
Controlled airspace is where there is a need for an air traffic control service for the safety and efficiency of aircraft operations. Special use airspace includes restricted areas, military operating areas, mandatory broadcast zones, volcanic hazard zones, danger areas, and low flying zones.
Maps showing the boundaries of controlled and other special use airspace, called Visual Navigation Charts (VNC), are available for purchase from the Aeronautical Information Shop(external link). You can view these electronically on the AirShare(external link) website.
Under Part 101 Gyrogliders and Parasails, Unmanned Aircraft (including Balloons), Kites, and Rockets - Operating Rules, you must get an agreement from the aerodrome operator before flying your unmanned aircraft within 4 km of their aerodrome. This includes the helipads at hospitals, and also those used by helicopters conducting scenic flights.
Contact details for aerodrome operators can be found on the AirShare website.(external link)
To be able to fly within 4 km of an aerodrome, you must also hold an appropriate pilot qualification, or be under the direct supervision of someone who does. This means the holder of a Part 61 pilot licence, a glider or microlight pilot certificate, or an unmanned aircraft pilot certificate issued by an approved organisation or approved Part 141 training provider.
You must also have an observer with you while flying, who will be responsible for maintaining situational awareness and providing you with information about any other aircraft that may be approaching or operating nearby.
When flying near an aerodrome, always stay well clear of all other aircraft, and never operate over an active runway strip or area where aircraft taxi. Control line model aircraft must also remain clear of such areas.
Sometimes, airspace is designated “Special Use”. There are specially-designated zones or areas where unmanned aircraft cannot fly without special permission, such as a military operating areas, restricted areas, and low flying zones.
Airspace can also be temporarily designated “Special Use” to help a police, military, or search and rescue operation. On the other hand, some areas are designated specifically for model aircraft flying.
Full lists of airspace designated Special Use:
Part 101 requires operators to get the consent of property owners and people that they are flying over. Remember:
If you cannot obtain consent, or obtaining consent would be impractical, this may indicate that your operation is too hazardous to be conducted under the Part 101 rules. You can apply to us to be certificated under Part 102, which then allows us to work through different options with you. It may be possible to relax or remove one or both of the consent requirements.
More information is provided in Advisory Circular AC101-1 Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) under 25 kilograms - Operating in compliance with Part 101 Rules.
A shielded operation is a flight where your aircraft remains within 100 metres of, and below the top of, a natural or man-made object. For example, a building, tower, or trees.
When flying as a shielded operation you are allowed to fly at night, or within controlled airspace without Air Traffic Control clearance, as other aircraft are unlikely to be flying so low and close to structures.
If you are relying on a shielded operation to fly your unmanned aircraft within 4 km of an aerodrome, then in addition to remaining within 100 metres of, and below the height of the object providing the shield, there must also be a physical barrier like a building or stand of trees between your unmanned aircraft and the aerodrome. This barrier must be capable of stopping your aircraft in the event of a fly-away.
Before conducting a shielded operation, make sure you familiarise yourself with the rules in Part 101, and the advice in the advisory circular.
If you need to fly outside the Part 101 rules, you will need to hold a Part 102 unmanned aircraft operator certificate. The certification process requires you to show how you're going to manage the risks associated with operating your aircraft outside the Part 101 rules.