Flying drones/remotely piloted aircraft in the vicinity of Cairns Airport.


Drones are becoming ever more popular and it is important that users understand the safety rules and safety issues associated with drone operations. It is also important that users are aware of the licencing requirements that may apply to these activities.

To ensure the safety of those on the ground and in the sky, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has developed rules and regulations prohibiting drones weighing more than 250g from being flown within 5.5 km of a controlled airport without an exemption.

All drones, regardless of how much they weigh are also prohibited from flying over or in the departure or approach path of a controlled airport – the airspace where traditional aircraft take off and land.

Drone rules also vary depending on whether you are flying for recreational or commercial purposes.

For more information visit CASA’s website:


Recreational Use (within 5.5 km of Cairns Airport)

If your drone weighs more than 250 g, you must not fly:

  • over a departure or approach path
  • over a movement area (areas where aircraft can taxi, take off or land on the ground)
  • within 5.5 km (3 NM) from a point along a runway centreline (the measurement point) of a controlled airport.

If your drone weighs 250 g or less, you can fly within 5.5 km (3 NM) from a point along a runway centreline (the measurement point). You must not:

  • fly over the movement area
  • fly over or in the departure or approach path
  • create a collision hazard to other aircraft taking off or landing.

For more information visit the CASA website:


Commercial Use

There are certain circumstances, for commercial purposes, where permission may be granted to operate a drone over 250 g within 5.5 km of Cairns Airport. When flying for money or any form of commercial gain, you may need to be licenced and certified as an operator or work for a certified operator.

Check the CASA website for information regarding commercial drone operations to ensure that you understand everything that you need to know.


Cairns Airport is committed to the safe operation of our aerodrome including the safety and security of our visitors, staff, local residents and airport tenants.

Any RPA usage that is in breach of regulatory requirements will be reported to CASA who may impose infringement notices that result in a significant fine (in excess of $10,000 AUD) per offence.

In addition to all regulatory approvals, Cairns Airport must also be notified of the commercial use of RPA’s. Notification must include the nature of the RPA usage, flight details, operator details (including primary contact) and regulatory approvals information/references.

Please notify Cairns Airport via email at and include the text ‘RPA (DRONE) USAGE’ in the Subject field.

If the intended RPA usage is for filming or photography purposes, please also complete an APPLICATION FOR FILMING OR PHOTOGRAPHY AT CAIRNS AIRPORT. 

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Helpful Information

Information regarding CASA’s regulations for drone usage can be found at:

Information regarding Airservices RPA policy can be found at:

Cairns Airport encourages the reporting of the illegal usage of RPA’s in the vicinity of the airport. This can be done through CASA at: