A new European drone law
Anyone operating a drone in Germany (whether professionally or privately) must now familiarise themselves with new rules. Drone flights are now subject to standardised regulations within the European Union. The German Drone Ordinance has been replaced - as has the previously known proof of knowledge. All drones and model aeroplanes are now divided into classes. EU-wide categorisation of the individual aircraft systems is now possible.
Note: The EU Drone Regulation came into force on 1 January 2021. Existing drone pilot licences from the previous period are only valid until 31 December 2023. The new EU certificates of competence are therefore required.
In a nutshell: What you need to know!
- In future, droneoperations will be categorised as Open, Specific and Certified
- New classes that categorise drones according to weight limits and equipment features (C0, C1, C2, C3, C4)
- Introduction of the EU drone licence
- Drone operators will be registered
What does this mean for me? You first need to know your category: You are most likely in the OPEN category, which means there is a low operational risk and no authorisations are required.
The most important facts about the OPEN category
- Height: Maximum 120 metres (above the starting point)
- Visibility: Do not fly beyond visual range!
- Privacy: Pay attention to your neighbours.
- Liability insurance: Necessary for every drone!
- Labelling: The drone must be labelled with an e-ID / operator registration number.
- No-fly zones: Observe the regulations of the countries! In particular the distance to airports, industrial plants, roads and motorways.
Classification by manufacturer
Device manufacturers are obliged to categorise the drones they sell into classes C0 to C4. All drones are then clearly labelled - depending on their take-off mass - according to their classification.
The OPEN operating category is subdivided into further subcategories A1, A2 and A3 and the aforementioned classes C0 to C4. Depending on the flying weight and the distance to people, various things must be taken into account.
For a surveyor, craftsman or thermographer, licence-free operation in the Open category is of particular interest. Flying over people is permitted for drones without a camera and up to 250g without proof. Under 900g you need a small drone licence (EU proof of competence) for all subcategories, the same applies to drones up to 4kg in subcategory A3. For A2 from 900g to 4kg, the large drone licence (EU remote pilot certificate) is also required.
Example: A drone with a take-off weight of over 900g (e.g. DJI Mavic 2, Phantom, Inspire) falls into class C2 . A surveyor with a Mavic drone inspecting a façade in the city centre is probably flying close to people (subcategory A2) and must
- Complete an online test + large EU drone licence (EU remote pilot certificate)
- Self-declaration of practical knowledge
- Register pilot or owner, i.e. operator
- Drone has safety features such as "return to home"
 Please note: A drone does not automatically and immediately fall into class C2. It must be operated as an existing drone in accordance with the following rules: Information on existing drones.
Authorisations are required if...
- Flights over crowds of people,
- above a height of 120 metres or
- beyond visual range are planned.
They are then in the SPECIFIC category, as there is an increased operational risk. A licence is required, which is verified with operating concepts - either through standard scenarios or a SORA .
If there is an accumulation of flights for a certain scenario, e.g. a flight beyond visual range at a certain location, the authority can draw up a standard scenario (STS). This makes the complex risk assessment (SORA) obsolete. However, each case must be examined individually.
Operations fall into the CERTIFIED category if the risk minimisation measures of a SORA are no longer sufficient (complex operational risk). This is the case, for example, with air taxis and drones for transporting goods (delivery drones). This creates many new application possibilities that were previously not clearly assigned by law.
New requirements for pilots
The pilot is now generally obliged to study the user information of a drone and to complete online training or an online examination at the Federal Aviation Office and register for the flight of drones over 250g. For flights in close proximity to people (A2) with devices between 900g and 4kg take-off mass, an EU drone pilot's licence from recognised bodies is also required - as well as a self-declaration of practical skills for using the drone.
Registration of drone operators
Drone operators are now obliged to apply for an electronic registration number (e-ID). Registration takes place online via the Federal Aviation Office. The e-ID must be attached to the drone and loaded into the drone's remote identification function. The aim of this regulation is the remote identification of the operator of flying objects in order to avoid incidents in no-fly zones. This obligation is only exempt for drones weighing less than 250g that cannot collect personal data. This means drones that do not have a camera. The e-ID replaces the fireproof sticker.
Innovation for specialists: LUC
For frequent flyers who fulfil certain requirements, it is possible to apply for LUC certification (Light UAS operator certificate) for drone operations in order to obtain a permanent operating permit for a specific drone operation. This is similar to ISO 9001 standardisation and can replace the need for individual approvals and recurring SORA assessments.
If you have any questions about the LUC or need help with the application, we will be happy to assist you.
Secure your place for the new large EU drone licence now! We will inform you about everything you need to know and prepare you for the online exam. Book now with no obligation! The certificate of competence also helps you to demonstrate sound practical skills to the authorities. For category Specific operating licences or advice on setting up your own organisational structure for LUC certification, Airclip is the right address for you. Simply make an appointment, also by telephone!