The commercial use of drones in 2023 is no mean feat. You just need to make a few preparations. The laws are based on the take-off weight of your drone: the heavier, the more requirements.
The most important things in brief
You absolutely need liability insurance.
Your company must be registered .
Drones up to 250 g do not require a licence. If your drone weighs more than 250 g, you need at least a small EU drone licence. If your drone weighs 900 g or more , you will need a large EU drone licence.
The public order office must be informed for flights within built-up areas. A quick phone call is often sufficient.
If you are filming over private property, you must obtain the owner' s permission.
Drones have a high potential for damage. Just like a car, liability insurance is therefore mandatory - regardless of the take-off weight. Providers are insurance companies and model flying associations such as our insurance partner.
Figure 1: Liability insurance for commercially used drones
Mandatory registration for all drones with a camera
Operators of drones with a camera - regardless of the take-off weight - are required to register with immediate effect. The decisive factor is whether your drone can record personal data. This is the case if your drone has a commercially available visual camera (= RGB camera) on board. Consequently, the registration requirement applies to practically all drone operators.
We would like to emphasise once again that you as the operator must register - but not your drone. This means that anyone operating a single drone must register just as once as a company operating 100 drones. Registration takes place online at the Federal Aviation Office.
Drones up to 250g licence-free
As with the national drone ordinance, small drones can be operated without a licence. The maximum take-off weight may not exceed 250g and no camera may be installed. As a transitional regulation, existing drones under 500g may be operated without a licence in all sub-categories in the EU until 01.01.2024.
Attention: You still have to register!
Small EU drone driving licence
New EU-wide drone regulations have been in force since 31 December 2020. They stipulate that drones with a take-off weight of more than 250 g and with a camera must obtain a small EU drone driving licence. Both the training and the test are available online on the portal of the Federal Aviation Office (LBA). The exam can be repeated as often as required and contains relatively simple questions on basic knowledge of laws (e.g. no-fly zones and privacy), technology (e.g. safety systems and interference) and meteorology (e.g. urban air movements and visibility).
Large EU drone licence
For drones with a take-off weight of more than 900 g , the large EU drone licence makes sense. But why do we say useful? You can also fly the drone with the small EU licence - but you must always keep a distance of 150 m from residential/commercial/industrial and recreational areas and stay far away from uninvolved people! With the large drone licence, you are allowed to fly up to 30 m from uninvolved persons and no longer have to maintain the 150 m distance from the areas. If your drone has a slow flight mode - known as tripod mode at DJI - the distance is even 5 metres. So be sure to plan for the large EU licence! We offer three different training courses for the large EU drone licence.
You can findmore information on the small and large EU drone licence in our article The new EU drone licence.
Figure 2: Drone training at Airclip
Be aware that you are responsible for an aircraft: The emergency stop as a last resort makes a dicey situation potentially fatal. So make sure you are properly prepared and you will have a lot of fun with your new device. We offer a range of training courses that will introduce you to the theory and practice of drone use.
In our opinion, the large EU drone licence is the absolute minimum for professional users. It gives you the necessary basic training and legal security in handling drones - and the training is not as dry as you might think, many people enjoy it! Once you have mastered the basics, you should consider one of our specialised training courses , depending on your profession. Not only does this make economic sense because you will get into an efficient workflow more quickly, but it also teaches you professional tips on the practical use of drones. We specialise in all professions that have to do with surveying : This is, for example, our classic surveying training course Aerial Surveying - but the right way.
If you don't want to make your first attempts at flying alone, we also recommend individual flight training.
SPECIFIC flight category: For those who want more
What used to be called an ascent licence is now an entire category. But let us briefly provide some context.
All previous sections referred to the so-called OPEN category. This is called open because no authorisation has to be granted by the authorities for a flight. You can find out what is permitted in the open category in our FAQ article. All flight plans that go beyond the open category belong in the specific category (SPECIFIC category), e.g. flights at night, beyond visual range or within a radius of 1.5 km from airports.
Do you still have a take-off authorisation or general ruling? Find outmore in our FAQ entry.
If you fall into the specific category, you must have your flights authorised. A major advantage of the EU Drone Regulation is that the authorisation process is very simple. This is ensured by so-called standard scenarios (STS for short), which are intended to cover a wide range of typical applications. A list of the currently available standard scenarios can be found here.
If you cannot find a suitable standard scenario, the only option is to use a risk assessment called SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment). You can find out what this is in our guide article.
At first glance, this may not sound easy. But don't let that put you off! Drones add great value to many industries today and, like Airclip, we specialise in helping commercial drone users like you. Send an e-mail to email@example.com now and we will take care of your successful start into the drone age!