Can I Fly a Drone Near an Airport?

Yes, you can fly a drone near small airports that are not in controlled airspace or no-fly zone. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits drones from flying near airports in a controlled air space. However, you may apply for a special permit to fly in controlled areas under certain circumstances.

Hello folks, my name is Lavelle and I am a drone pilot and long-time drone enthusiast. Over the past decade, I have flown my drones near airports for both recreational and commercial purposes. 

In this article, I will discuss flying near airports and provide information to help you understand how to identify restricted airspaces. I will also go over the process for obtaining permission to fly your drone near airports.

Key Takeaways

  • Before flying a drone next to an airport, figure out if it is located in controlled or uncontrolled airspaces.
  • Ensure that you follow all FAA guidelines for flying.
  • The process for applying for permission to fly near airports is easy but requires some time and patience.

Can You Fly a Drone Near an Airport

Until May 2019, the FAA imposed a five-mile rule radius for zone restrictions around airports. Following the abolishment of that rule, the FAA forces a requirement to obtain airspace authorization before flying near an airport. 

Drones are allowed to fly in any uncontrolled airspace as long as drone operators adhere to the other FAA rules like flying at a 400-feet or below level and not flying over moving people. The FAA’s B4UFLY app is a great resource to check before attempting to fly near an airport.

Recreational drone operators should always be aware of the traffic patterns and takeoff and landing areas of airports and check their zone before flying. Commercial drone pilots are also allowed to fly near airports and must obtain clearance to do so. 

How to Understand If the Airspace is Restricted

Restricted airspaces are identified by zone classifications. Airports that are categorized as Class A, B, C, D, or E2 are considered to be in controlled airspaces, and drones are not allowed to fly in these zones

More information on these zones can be found through the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) platform.

Drone operators can use a drone safety map, the B4UFLY app from the FAA, or log on to the FAA site for specific information on airspace restrictions.

How to Get a Permission to Fly a Drone Near Airport

Here are the steps you can take to get authorization to fly your drone near an airport.

Step 1. Ensure That Your Drone is Registered With the FAA

Recreational operators are not required to have a license but your craft must be registered and you must take the UAS Safety Test (TRUST).

Step 2. Provide Your Location and Path of the Drone

Provide the location and path of your drone flight to the FAA. Check for any restrictions along your flight path. Provide as much detail about the flight as possible.

Step 3. Submit a Request

Provide your personal details, review the information, and then submit your request at the FAA website.


Here are a few answers to some of the frequently asked questions about flying near airports.

How Close to Airport Can Drone Fly?

Drones are not allowed within 5 miles of an airport unless prior authorization is obtained from the FAA.

Can Airports See My Drone?

If you fly in the no-fly zone, airport traffic control may be able to see your drone. It is recommended that you always check for airspace restrictions before launching your drone.

What Is the 5-Mile Rule for Drones?

The FAA generally sets a 5-mile radius rule for flying near airports unless authorization to fly within that radius is obtained and other FAA regulations are followed.

Final Thoughts

Understanding restricted airspaces and where and when you can fly near airports is an important part of being a safe drone operator.

All drone operators should familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations that are in place for the safe operation of their aircraft. 

What are your thoughts on flying drones near airports? Have you ever submitted a request for permission to fly around the airport? Share your experience below.

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