Information for crane operators: Operating cranes in an airport’s protected airspace

The need for approval to operate cranes in protected airspace

Crane operations in the vicinity of an airport have the potential to create air safety hazards and to seriously limit the airport's operations. For this reason, they are required by law to be assessed and approved under the Commonwealth's Airports (Protection of Airspace) Regulations 1996.

It is an offence under Section 183 of the Airports Act 1996 to carry out, without approval, crane operations which intrude into an airport's protected airspace. This offence is punishable by a fine of up to 250 penalty units. It is an offence under Section 185 of the Act to contravene any conditions imposed on an approval. It is also an offence under Section 186 of the Act not to give information to the airport operator that is relevant to a proposed controlled activity.

How do you apply?

Applications to carry out crane operations should be made in writing to the airport at least 28 days before the proposed activity. Application forms are available at the airport. The information required in the application must include:

  1. the nature of the proposed activity (ie crane operations)
  2. its precise location (street directory grid references can be used)
  3. the maximum height of the crane above Australian Height Datum (AHD)
  4. whether there is any marking or lighting installed on the crane
  5. proposed operating hours, and any other relevant information.

To avoid any doubt as to whether an approval is required, applicants should check with the airport operator at the earliest possible stage.

The approval

An approval may carry conditions relating to how the operation must be carried out. These conditions may include marking or lighting, the hours or weather conditions in which the crane can operate, or requirements to maintain contact with the airport during the operation.

Complying with the approval

Proponents granted an approval to conduct a controlled activity are responsible for complying with the conditions of an approval.  This involves monitoring the timeframes of the activity to ensure that activity is completed within the specified period of the approval and ensuring that any reporting obligations are met. 

If an extension or variation to an approval is required, Proponents must apply at least 28 days before the expiry of the current approval to enable an assessment as described in Assessment of Applications.

An approval applies to individual cranes at specific locations and is not transferrable to operations across a site.