Flying drones close to airports can be a risky business, so it’s important to know the rules of the road. Here, we’ll explain some of these rules and show you how to fly responsibly.

You cannot fly within five miles of an airport unless you have prior authorization from the airport or air traffic control tower. If you want to fly within five miles of an airport, you must contact the airport directly and get permission.

In this article we will cover the topic “How Close Can You Fly A Drone To An Airport?”.

Rules For Flying Drones Near An Airport


Flying within 5 miles of an airport is illegal, so you’ll want to avoid flying near airports as much as possible. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that you contact air traffic control towers and other aviation officials before flying a drone within 5 miles of an airport.

Additionally, it’s important to note that temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), or “no fly zones” are often put into effect in response to accidents or other emergency situations at airports. It’s best to keep away from these areas when choosing where to fly your drone.

And remember: As always, keep your distance from emergency vehicles responding to accidents on the ground—you don’t want them coming after you if they mistake your drone for something else!

Notify Airports And Air Traffic Control Towers

Notify Airports And Air Traffic Control Towers

If you have any doubt about the best course of action, you can call the control tower or airport authorities. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s okay to fly your drone there or not, and they will be able to direct you to local law enforcement if anything goes wrong.

In addition to calling the police and FAA (which we’ve already discussed), here are some other agencies that might be worth contacting depending on your situation:

  • The National Guard – If there’s an emergency happening at a nearby military base or airfield, this might be a good time for them to come with their high-tech gear.
  • The Air Force – If there was some kind of war going on and/or if there were enemy aircraft in the area, then maybe it would make sense for them too? Also probably not what we’re talking about here though…
  • The Coast Guard – Same thing as above!

Temporary Flight Restrictions (tfrs)

A TFR is a restriction on where and when certain aircraft can operate. The FAA uses them to manage airspace in areas where temporary hazards to flight exist.

They are generally authorized by the FAA’s Air Traffic Organization, which may impose a TFR at any time when they find it necessary for safety of flight or protection of people or property on the ground.

There are many different types of temporary flight restrictions:

  • Special use airspace (SUA)
  • Prohibited areas
  • Restricted areas (RAs)

Keep An Eye Out For Emergency Aircraft That May Respond To An Accident

Keep An Eye Out For Emergency Aircraft That May Respond To An Accident

In addition to responding to accidents, aircraft respond to fires and medical emergencies. There is also a wide range of other possible missions for which an emergency aircraft might be dispatched: natural disasters, terrorist incidents, missing persons and law enforcement incidents.

Don’t Fly Too Close To An Airport

The FAA recommends that you never fly within a five-mile radius of an airport. If you’re flying a drone in the vicinity of any airport, it’s even more important to be aware of the rules and regulations surrounding drone flights near airports.

With that said, here are some general guidelines for how close you can fly your drone to various types of airfields:

  • Never fly within 2 miles (3 km) of an airport or heliport.
  • Don’t fly within 3 miles (5 km) of any military installation unless you have permission from the controlling authority.

Large Airports

If you’re flying a drone near an airport, it’s best to avoid flying within 5 miles of the airport. The FAA also recommends avoiding flying within 5 miles of the outermost lateral boundaries of any large (Class B) or medium (class C) sized airports.

If you have a pilot’s license and are using your drone for hobby and recreational purposes, you should avoid flying within 3 miles of these airports’ outermost lateral boundaries.

Medium Airports

You can fly up to 5 miles away from a medium airport and not exceed 400 feet in altitude. You can also fly at 100 mph or less, but you’ll want to keep it to 30 minutes total.

As with the small airports, make sure there are no temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) in effect before flying near an airport in this category.

Small Airports

If you are flying around a small airport, stay at least 3 nautical miles away from the airport. Keep in mind that this is not recommended if there are any temporary flight restrictions in place.

When flying near a small airport, keep your drone at least 2 nautical miles away from it—and ideally 1 mile or more (it depends on how big an aircraft is).


You should avoid flying in the vicinity of helicopters. If you do, stay at least 350 feet away.

Drones are not permitted to fly within five miles of an airport without first getting permission from air traffic control (ATC).

Additionally, drones cannot be flown within one mile of any other airport’s airspace unless permission has been granted by the tower controller and you have filed a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) with that airport’s tower controller.

If you fly your drone in the vicinity of a helicopter and it causes interference with their flight path or operations, then you may be subject to stiff fines and/or jail time depending on how serious the incident is judged by authorities.

Universal Guidelines


If you don’t want to become the subject of an FAA investigation, then don’t do any of this:

Use A Visual Observer

The visual observer is required for all drones over 55 pounds and all drones operating in Class B, C, D and E airspace. The visual observer must have a current FAA pilot certificate and be able to maintain visual line of sight with the drone at all times.

In addition to these requirements, the operator must also ensure that the visual observer has read through the area flight rules established by each local airport authority or control tower.

Avoid Approach/departure Paths

Here are the rules for drone flying near airports:

  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport. This is illegal under any circumstances, even if you have permission from the airport or control tower. If you’re caught doing it, not only will you be fined and possibly jailed for violating airspace restrictions, but your drone might also be confiscated by law enforcement officers.
  • If you live within this radius of an airport and want to fly your drone there anyway (if it’s legal), then talk with employees at the local FBO or ATC facility about obtaining a waiver first so that they can help ensure everything goes smoothly when you’re in their airspace.
  • Don’t fly within 3 miles of heliport approach/departure paths or over 4500 feet agl near heliports unless authorized by ATC or with explicit permission from air traffic control tower personnel on the ground

Use Your Eyes And Years

There are several ways to keep yourself safe and stay within the rules. One of the most important is using your senses. Your eyes and ears can keep you aware of your environment, weather conditions, other aircraft nearby, and even how close you are flying to an airport.

  • Eyes: Keep an eye on what’s happening around you
  • Ears: Listen for traffic control instructions or other aircraft calling out their position in relation to yours


The limit of FAA is five miles from the center of an airport’s property. The FAA also requires that you not fly drones within three miles of any airport runway at any altitude lower than 400 feet above ground level.

If you follow the correct procedures and use common sense, flying your drone near an airport should be safe. You’ll want to check with your local FAA office or air traffic control tower before flying anywhere near one of these facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions (how Close Can You Fly A Drone To An Airport)

How Close Can You Fly A Drone To An Airport In The Us?

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) sets the rules for drone flight. The FAA has a chart that shows how close you can fly a drone to an airport, depending on the size of the airport and whether it is a commercial or general aviation airport. This chart is based on distance from the center of an airport—the larger or more busy the airport, the greater distance you must keep your drone from its center.

What’s The Penalty For Flying A Drone Near An Airport?

If you are flying a drone within five miles of an airport, the penalty is $1,000. However, if the FAA finds that your drone caused a “near miss,” which means if it came close to colliding with another aircraft or obstructing its path in any way, then you could face fines up to $25,000 and/or jail time.

What Do You Need To Know Before You Fly Your Drone Near An Airport?

  • You must have permission from the airport before flying.
  • You cannot fly over people or property that are not yours without permission.
  • Your drone must remain within 5 miles of an airport while you are using it, unless you have permission to be closer than that.
  • Your drone must remain within 4 miles of a heliport when in use, unless you have special permission to be closer than that (this includes airports with control towers).
  • Drones should not be flown at night because they cannot see as well during this time and may crash into things or run into people on the ground (or even in other aircraft).

Can I Fly A Drone Near An Airfield In The Uk?

You can fly a drone up to 400ft (120 metres) high, as that is the maximum height limit permitted by the CAA.

You must keep your drone in sight at all times. If you lose sight of it, you must land immediately.

You must not fly within 50m of any person, vessel, vehicle or structure. This includes airport buildings and runways – if you’re flying near an aerodrome then stay at least 50m away from these areas.

What Is The Penalty For Flying A Drone Near An Airfield In The Uk?

The penalty for flying a drone near an airfield in the UK is a fine of up to £2,500. This is reduced to £1,000 if you have a valid reason for flying your drone near an airfield.

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