In this 2-part Quick Guide, Drone Advice brings you an overview of DJI’s Custom Unlocking process for DJI drones.

Flight zones

People flying drones in Australia would hopefully know about the following “traffic light” system that has been put in place by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) (in conjunction with Drone Complier) to indicate whether a pilot can or can’t take-off and fly:

  • Red: Restricted Zone
  • Amber: Authorisation Zone
  • Green: (this effectively comprises 2 sub-zones): (i) Warning Zone (ii) Enhanced Warning Zone
  • “Uncoloured” – this “zone” represents everywhere that is not a Restricted Zone, Authorisation Zone or Green Zone.

Much like waiting at the lights in your car – this colour system (overlaid on a map within the “Can I fly there?” drone safety app) gives a quick visual representation of areas that notionally are (and those that are not) ok to fly in.

Many drone pilots may have also at some stage inadvertently tried to start up their drone, only to realise that the drone’s lights are flashing red and that it won’t start because it is in a Restricted Zone.

Restricted Zones

Why would anyone want to fly in a Restricted Zone (otherwise known as a “No Fly Zone”) you might ask? There are lots of reasons – one reason is that you may have a commercial project that requires you to fly your drone at or in the vicinity of one or more of the following locations:

  • an airport
  • a nuclear plant
  • a prison
  • a stadium
  • a military base
  • a disaster area
  • some other area that has been designated as a Restricted Zone

You may also just fly for fun and happen to live nearby to one of the places or areas listed above.

With this list in mind, it’s easy to see (much to the chagrin of eager and enterprising drone pilots) how large tracts of land in and around big cities are generally off-limits for flying.

Of the Restricted Zones listed above, the most “obvious” example is that of an airport. Many international cities have one or more major airports that sit inside or just on the outskirts of the city. Sydney International Airport is one such example – as I’m sure has been a source of frustration for many drone pilots in Sydney.

But fear not. With a bit of advanced preparation and leg-work you may be able to get that red restricted zone “traffic light” to give you the green light. Be warned though, the processes can be very time-consuming and complex – fees may also be levied to assess applications.

So “how can I fly in a Restricted Zone?” you may ask.

For an overview of the process, check out Part 2 of this Quick Guide.

Images: courtesy of the Dronetrepreneur from Instagram.