Flying close to airports?

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Skydog, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. Skydog

    Skydog Active Member

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    My understanding is the without the certification you need to notify the airport operator and the tower to get permission to fly.

    Does anyone have experience doing this? Do they pick up the phone? What if there is a heliport on top of a hospital? Who do you call?

    Are the phone numbers easy to find? Do the towers and operators typically give permission?

    How much in advance do they need to know or is it realtime?

    If it's a private airport that is not used frequently and you can't reach anyone, is it ok to fly?

    Can anyone provide some practical insight on how this works?

    Thanks - I'm just trying to educate myself.


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  2. Greeney

    Greeney Member

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  3. Password

    Password Member

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    I am an air traffic controller at an airport on the east coast. I can help to answer some of these as I am a drone enthusiast as well waiting on my mavic.

    My understanding is the without the certification you need to notify the airport operator and the tower to get permission to fly.

    If you are going to fly in controlled airspace (usually within 5 miles of an airport but varies depending where you are) yes you have to notify the air traffic controll tower. No one will deny you unless it is unsafe (and they will give a reason) or if it interferes with something on our end.

    Does anyone have experience doing this? Do they pick up the phone? What if there is a heliport on top of a hospital? Who do you call?

    Yes, we pick up the phone. As far as hospital heliports you would have to talk to the hospital or whomever is in charge of that particular helipad. Sometimes this is the FAA and sometimes this is not the faa.

    Are the phone numbers easy to find? Do the towers and operators typically give permission?

    The number are fairly easy to find through google. I may be able to help if you let me know which airports you are talking about. And as long as the drone won't interfere with our final or departure paths we are cool with it. You would be surprised how many of us controllers actually own and fly drones as well.

    How much in advance do they need to know or is it realtime?

    Right before you fly is fine. We usually ask how long you will be up, where you will be flying and what altitudes you expect to reach.

    If it's a private airport that is not used frequently and you can't reach anyone, is it ok to fly?

    Depends on the airport. We have a few small uncontrolled airports that have no one to call. I would use caution with these.

    Can anyone provide some practical insight on how this works?

    It is a simple process and most of the controllers work with you. I personally have someone call about once a week and let us know they are flying within 5 miles. I only have denied one person because of an active TFR and an air show. Also, I would suggest scheduling a tour with your local airport you will be flying near. Get inside and actually see what the controllers see and get to know them. It will help you as a pilot of a drone. Any other questions feel free to ask!
     
  4. Skydog

    Skydog Active Member

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    Thanks for your response Password. Is the airport operator the same as the tower? I'm trying to figure out do I need to make two phone calls or just one? The airports in question are OAK Metropolitan Oakland International (on B4UFLY there is also a "C" symbol labeled Metropolitan Oakland Airport Class C, I assume that's the same as OAK) and the helipad is at Childrens Hospital Oakland in California a few miles away.

    For the helipad should I call the switchboard at the hospital and ask to speak to someone in charge of the helipad? I imagine the operator won't know what to do with me. Or would that helipad be controlled by the Oakland Airport?

    Thanks


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  5. BeneluxStudio

    BeneluxStudio Member

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    I live about 10 miles from the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. They will send the police if I call them and told them I would fly a multicopter. I stay under 50 meters. I get a warning on mij screen when I start up the remote. No problem at all.
     
  6. dsd317

    dsd317 Well-Known Member

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    In my case, they're not. First...I had to contact the Airport operator. To do that, I called the main airport number I found online and told them I needed to speak with someone regarding flying a drone within 5 miles of their airport. That person then directed my call to the Airport operator. The operator took my information down and later gave me the number of the control tower (not advertised to the public). I later contacted the control tower and gave them my info and approx. time of flight. He told me I could notify them just minutes before I fly because even if I notified them a few days in advance, they'll still want me to call them right before I fly. That way they'll tell me if it's safe to fly at that moment (something like that).
     
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  7. Skydog

    Skydog Active Member

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    What's the responsibility of an airport operator? And why would they need to know that you are flying a drone? It makes sense that the tower would need to know.
     
  8. dsd317

    dsd317 Well-Known Member

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    In my case, the airport operations manager had to ensure that before I contact the tower I had all the appropriate information, especially my FAA registration number. They don't want anyone calling the control tower with nonsense info. She was very helpful and also said that I just needed to contact her that one time so she can get my info and so she can give me the contact number for the control tower. All flights thereafter, I just called the control tower only.
     
  9. kmaluo

    kmaluo Well-Known Member

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    Basically to make sure you're not flying in an airplane flight path.
     
  10. Kristopher Kinney

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    The operator doesn't need to know you are flying a drone. You are just going through the operator to get the telephone number for the tower.
     
  11. kmaluo

    kmaluo Well-Known Member

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    Oh sorry, I misread that. I've never spoken to an operator, only the towers.
     
    #11 kmaluo, Nov 17, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  12. Password

    Password Member

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