Flying a drone. How hard can it be?

We will tell you a story that truly answers the question: How hard can flying a drone be?

The Sydney Gateway Project
The Sydney Gateway project is a new toll-free road development that will improve travel times to Sydney Airport, the M5 motorway and Eastern Distributor. The road is adjacent to Sydney Airport, Australia’s busiest air space.

Images for Business has been working for the Sydney Gateway Joint Venture Project to document all aspects of the development. Our role has included time-lapse, video, still photography and aerial drone imagery.

The first of two massive steel bridges now in place, captured using a drone.


You want to do what?

Aerial drone video is a great way to communicate the scale of large projects. We’re increasingly using drones as part of the imaging service we provide. But Sydney Gateway provided a whole new challenge. Its proximity to Sydney Airport meant we would be flying a drone within Australia’s most restricted airspace.

Sydney Gateway requested that we send a drone up to capture a milestone achievement for the project. We needed to capture it at night during the airport curfew hours. But the greatest difficulty was flying during daylight hours when the airport was fully operational.

What’s not immediately evident to all but those working in aviation is that gaining permission to fly a drone near Sydney airport is rare. Good-quality drones are programmed not to fly within these zones.

So, flying within restricted airspace required extraordinary planning and permissions. The default position of CASA and Air Services Australia to requests of this type is NO.

So, it was quite a challenge.


Images for Business is approved.

Images for Business has extensive experience in safety planning and flying within restricted airspace. Our record at least enabled CASA to consider the request. The formal request was approved with strict conditions.

Looking across the Alexandria Canal towards Sydney’s International Terminal.


On the day

Approvals to fly with restricted airspace are always conditional and subject to change. Final authority on the day took several steps, including flight clearance from the Airport traffic control tower. A spotter worked with the pilot to maintain radio contact and additional visual safety.

Toby Shain, CASA licensed pilot, flying the drone.


We’re in the air and have limited time to capture all aspects of the client’s brief. The result was spectacular footage of Sydney Gateway. It was precisely what our client wanted it to be.

This was all achieved with little fuss and impact on our client. Images for Business did the heavy lifting.

There’s the answer. Flying a drone can be much more complex than you would expect.

The drone in action.