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‘Unauthorised’ drones surge over Alice Spring ‘boneyard’

written by Adam Thorn | September 16, 2021

Alice Springs Airport has been forced to erect CASA ‘No Drone’ signs after a “significant” increase in people flying the devices over its desert ‘boneyard’.

It comes after an Airservices Australia heat map detected 51 illegal drone movements within five kilometres of the facility between June and September 2020 alone.

The five CASA ‘No Drone Zone’ roadside signs were approved by the NT government and erected at “strategic road locations” near the aerodrome boundary.

The news was contained in the latest annual report of the airport’s Community Aviation Consultation Group.

Alice Springs’ so-called ‘boneyard’ – which both stores and disposes aircraft – has seen its capacity soar during the pandemic, from holding 18 aircraft pre-COVID to 150 during the last financial year.

More than 110 employees were employed by Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage (APAS) to maintain aircraft, which have included Singapore Airline’s A380 fleet.


The facility was given a series of government investments to fund its growth, including a $3.5 million injection from the territory government in July last year.

Tom Vincent, who owns APAS, previously told the ABC that parking spaces were “definitely in demand”.

“As soon as extra spots for storage come online, there are aircraft filling those spots,” Vincent said.


Australian Aviation reported in July 2021 how the second of Singapore’s A380s left the desert.

The aircraft, 9V-SKW msn 251, departed the aircraft storage facility at 11:23am on 28 July and headed to Sydney for maintenance.

It will eventually return to service like the last of its aircraft to leave Alice Springs, 9V-SKQ, in February.

Like many so-called boneyards, APAS is chosen by airlines because its low precipitation and hot weather reduce rust, while staff are on-hand to carry out the 100-plus maintenance tasks per year required to keep aircraft operational.

Comment (1)

  • Hayden


    Must be some very bored people out ASP way if the most exciting thing they can do is fly their drones over the airport, which is actually illegal surveillance.

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