Flying drones in different countries around the world is getting more complicated these days: Sadly, every nation tries to put up their own walls, their own solutions to the issue of “controlling” UAV traffic. Germany is no exception. Since October last year, drones in Germany have to fulfill a series of requirements depending on the category and the desired operational goals. In contrast to many other countries in Europe, the German approach to drone regulation seems to be a strict but rather practical one, allowing for innovation and adoption of new technologies.
The cornerstone of the new regulation is that drones under 2 kg do not need a permit but need to be clearly marked, must not fly in some restricted airspaces and have to be fully insured.
The new drone law posted by the German Federal Ministry for Traffic and Infrastructure (BMVI) on April 7, 2017, can be found here on the BMVI website.
The new German Drone Law in detail
1. Marking of drones
All model aircraft and unmanned aerial systems over 250 grams must be marked with owner’s name and home address in a non-destructible way (i.e., a metal placard).
2. Proof of proficiency
All drones over 2 kg can only be operated by pilots that can show their proficiency by (a) a pilot’s license or (b) a certified drone exam approved by the BMVI or (c) a certification issued by an aeroclub or one of its member clubs. Minimum age is 14 years.
3. Freedom to operate
Any model aircraft or drone under 5 kg can be operated without permission (does not include pilot certification as per the previous point)
4. Operation permission
Any unmanned aerial systems over 5 kg as well as operation in the night require consent of the state aviation authorities.
5. No limitations for commercial use
Commercial use of drones for filming etc. needed a permission until now – this is suspended for drones under 5 kg.
6. Operational limits
Model aircraft and unmanned drones may not be operated
- outside of the visual line of sight (VLOS) for devices under 5 kg
- in and over sensitive areas, e.g., police or rescue operations, hospitals, groups of people, prisons, industry, government buildings or nature reserves
- over certain streets and federal waterways
- within control zones of airports
- at altitudes above 100m above ground (AGL)
- over residential areas when the device weighs more than 250 g and the device can record audio or video, except when impacted persons expressly approve overflying their property
7. Right of way
Drones and model aircraft have to give way to any other manned aircraft or unmanned balloons.
8. Usage of FPV goggles
Flights using FPV goggles are permitted if altitude does not exceed 30 meters, and the device weighs less than 250 grams or another person (spotter) has the device in sight at all times.