Airspace protection

The protection of airspace is essential to provide a safe and predictable environment for the arrival and departure of aircraft using the airport. Any activity that will result in the intrusion of protected airspace, such as controlled activities, crane use, external lighting, balloons and unmanned aircraft (drones and rockets), requires approval before it can be carried out.

Controlled Activities including Operating Cranes and Pavement Concessions

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC)
(Department) protects the airspace around leased Federal airports under the Airports Act 1996 and the Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations 1996. The protection of airspace is essential in order to provide a safe and predictable environment for the arrival and departure of aircraft using an airport.

International standards have been adopted which define two sets of invisible surfaces above the ground, these include:

1. Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS): a defined area of airspace designed to provide protection for visual flying (VFR) operations, where the pilot is flying by sight. All existing and potential obstacles must be assessed to ensure that any impact on aircraft operations is identified.

2. Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Aircraft Operations (PANS-OPS): a defined area of airspace designed to provide protection for instrument flying (IFR), where the pilot is reliant on instrument navigation. PANS-OPS surfaces may also include protection of the airspace around navigation aids that are required for instrument flying activity. PANS-OPS surfaces are not permitted to be infringed in any circumstance.

Any activity that will result in an intrusion of protected airspace are referred to as controlled activities and must be approved before being carried out. 

Controlled activities include:

  • Permanent structures, e.g. buildings
  • Temporary structures, e.g. cranes
  • Glare from artificial light or reflected sunlight
  • Air turbulence from stacks or vents, smoke, dust, steam of other gasses or particulate matter.

How do you know you need an approval?
[Sourced from]

The activity you intend carrying out will generally require an approval by State or local government authorities. Larger projects may require an Environment Impact Statement while most projects will require the issue of a building permit by the local council.

Local councils in the vicinity of an airport's protected airspace are required to review all building and development applications they receive for any intrusions of protected airspace.

These local councils refer proposals to the airport operator if an intrusion is likely to occur. The proponent will then need to apply through the airport operator for approval.

Airport operators are required to make charts of the OLS and PANS-OPS surfaces available to the public. In most cases these charts are also incorporated into the local council's planning information databases. To avoid any doubt, applicants (e.g. developers, builders and crane operators) should check with the airport operator (or their local council) at the earliest possible stage. Moorabbin Airport can be contacted here. 

Moorabbin Aerodrome Charts
Moorabbin Airport Prescribed Airspace – OLS
Moorabbin Airport Prescribed Airspace – PANS-OPS

How do you apply?
Applications to carry out a controlled activity are to be made to Moorabbin Airport Corporation (MAC) in writing as below.

  1. Email a completed copy of the Controlled Activity Application Form to [email protected]

    MAC will then conduct an initial assessment of the application in terms of:

    - whether the activity results in an intrusion into the OLS or PANS-OPS surface

    - the extent of the intrusion

    - the precise location of the development or activity.

  2. If MAC determine that an airspace infringement may/ will occur, MAC will request you obtain a Controlled Activity Assessment from an airport consultant.
  3. After submitting the Controlled Activity Assessment, MAC is required to seek comment from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Airservices Australia and the Department (this process can take several months).
  4. MAC or the Department then advise the applicant if the controlled activity has been approved and under which conditions, if any.

For further information on Airspace Protection at Leased Federal Airports and the approval process can be found here.

External lighting restrictions

External lighting restrictions

CASA has the authority, under the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988, to control ground lights where they have the potential to cause confusion or distraction (from glare) to pilots in the air. Ground lights may cause confusion or distraction by reason of their colour, position, pattern or intensity of light emission above the horizontal plane.

Regulations on lighting in the vicinity of aerodromes is located in the CASA Manual of Standards Part 139 – Aerodromes, Section 9.143, Other lighting on the aerodrome and provides guidance on the design and installation of lights in the vicinity of an aerodrome (within a 6km radius of an airport). It is the responsibility of the lighting designer to ensure that the lights meet the requirements prescribed in the Civil Aviation Regulations, Civil Aviation Safety Regulations and Manual of Standards Part 139. It is also the responsibility of the lighting supplier to meet National Airports Safeguarding Framework (NASF) Guideline E Managing the Risk of Distractions to Pilots from Lighting in the Vicinity of Airports (see link here).

How do you apply?

  1. Applications to install lighting, equipment or laser that exceed the maximum lighting intensities (a diagram depicting the maximum lighting intensities at Moorabbin Airport can be found here) must be emailed to [email protected] 
  2. Moorabbin Airport must then notify CASA as soon as possible after the application is received.
  3. CASA must;
    a. consider whether the notification identifies a risk to the safety of aviation; and
    b. if necessary, issue directions for action to mitigate the risk.
  4. The lighting must not be installed until CASA has assessed and approved in writing the lighting intensity proposed for the installation, equipment or laser.

Pavement Concessions

Pavement Concessions

A pavement concession is required for the following:

  • aircraft above 5,700kg MTOW
  • aircraft above 15m wingspan

If you require a pavement concession for your operations into Moorabbin Airport, please complete the form here and email to [email protected] with a minimum of two working days’ notice. 



Fireworks, Lasers/ Light Shows and Balloons

If you are conducting a fireworks display, you will need to notify CASA and get an approval for the display. You will also need to contact your relevant council or state/territory authority to determine if other approvals are required. Further information on CASA fireworks approval can be found here. 

Lasers/ Light Shows
Lasers and high-intensity lights like sky trackers, pose a serious risk to pilots which can result in difficulties flying and impaired vision. It takes only a fraction of a second to cause flash blindness or ocular damage, even if the aircraft is travelling quite quickly. Any person or organisation wishing to conduct a laser or high-intensity light show must notify CASA. Further information on laser and light shows can be found here. 

Balloon release

Small balloons (<50 grams of payload) released in large bunches can pose a safety hazard to aircraft by distracting pilots or getting caught in engines and propellers.
It is a requirement under Civil Aviation Safety Regulation – 1998 (CASR) Regulation 101.E that the CASA approves the release of balloons into airspace surrounding an airport. CASA contacts can be found here.



 Requirements for the release of small balloons (referenced from CASR 1998, Part 101.155)

Number of balloons to be released at one time  Distance from place of release to nearest aerodrome 
  Less than 3 nautical miles (5.5km) 3-6 nautical miles (5.5-11km) 6-12 nautical miles
Over 12 nautical miles (22km) 
 101-1,000  CASA approval  NOTAM  No approval required No approval required
 1,001-10,000  CASA approval  CASA approval  NOTAM  No approval required
 Over 10,000  CASA approval  CASA approval  CASA approval  NOTAM 

CASA approval - means that an approval under subregulation (5) is required for the release of that number of balloons at a place within that distance from the nearest aerodrome.
means that CASA’s approval is not required, but the person intending to release that number of balloons at a place that distance from the nearest aerodrome must give to CASA the information about the proposed release required by table 101.155 2.
No approval required
- means that no such approval is required for the release of that number of balloons at a place within that distance from the nearest aerodrome.


Unmanned aircraft

Unmanned aircraft/ drones

Unmanned aircraft, such as drones and rockets, can pose a serious hazard to aircraft operators.

CASA are the controlling authority and rules and information on flying a drone can be found on the CASA website here.

Unless you are licenced or have permission from CASA to do so, the drone safety rules state that you must not fly:

  • closer than 5.5 km to a controlled aerodrome or airfield (usually those with a control tower), if your drone weighs more than 100 g.
  • higher than 120 m (400 ft) above ground level – that's about the height of a 35-storey building or length of a football field.
  • in a way that creates a hazard to another person, aircraft or property
  • in prohibited or restricted airspace (use a CASA-verified drone safety app to help you).

Ensure you understand the rules and where you can fly, before you fly - check the CASA website for further information.

CASA 'Know Your Drone' Campaign