GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — There are several laws and regulations you need to follow if you want to fly your own drone in Germany.
The German drone rules are regulated by the “Bundesministerium fuer Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur” and by the “Deutsche Flugsicherung,” the German version of the Federal Aviation Administration.
The following information is as of December 2018.
What do I need before I start?
To fly legally in Germany, you need to label your drone with your name and address if the weight of your drone is more than 250 grams or 8.8 ounces. This label needs to be water, fire and crash resistant. There are several vendors selling metal labels for your drone model.
It’s also mandatory to sign up for liability insurance. Be aware that some insurances just cover your drone flights at model airfields or just flights in certain countries.
“Buyer beware! For people who fly small drones or unmanned aircraft systems as a hobby, they are prohibited to operate on military installations. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service may sale unmanned aircraft systems, but locations of operation are limited in Germany,” said Peter Huller, Chief of Operations, United States Army Garrison Bavaria.
Where is it prohibited to fly?
It’s prohibited to fly over a crowd of people, accident or incident areas, power plants, jails, private properties, highways, railroads, harbors, waterways, military installations, industrial zones, environmental protected areas and airports. A minimum distance of 100 meters or 328 feet is required.
Prohibited areas also include general no flight areas and air controlled traffic regions. These differ from the physically easy to identify areas above because you can’t see them. These areas are just allowed in cases of special permits from the Deutsche Flugsicherung.
How can I identify no flight areas and air controlled traffic regions?
Because these areas aren’t physically defined, you need to find a way to be aware of these no-go areas. Of course there’s an app for that.
“The best way to identify these areas is the official DFS App,” said Heiko Gentes, acting airfield operations manager.
How far and how high can I fly?
The maximum height is 100 meters or 328 feet. You can fly your drone as far as you can see it. It’s prohibited to fly out of sight as well as with Virtual Reality goggles.
The only exception for VR goggles is for aircraft under 0.25 kg, under 30 meters height of flight and with a second person who is viewing the remote-controlled device and notifying the pilot of any issues.
Where is the best place to fly commercial drones and learn flying?
The best way to learn how to fly a drone is a model airfield. These areas provide a safe environment and you can learn from like-minded people. Most of these places are owned by model aircraft clubs. Many of the membership fees already include the required insurance. Please check details for flight rules at each location.
Grafenwoehr area: Weiden www.mbc-weiden.de
Garmisch area: Garmisch www.psv-garmisch.de
Visit https://www.ma-db.com for a full database list of model airfields in Germany.
Are there special regulations for heavy drones, more than 2 kilos or 4.4 pounds?
For drones heavier than 4.4 pounds you need a proof of knowledge or drone pilot license. The license expires every five years and can be made at all drone schools approved by the Luftfahrt Bundesamt. The minimum age is 16 years old.
What are the requirements for drones over 5 kilos or 8.8 pounds?
For drones over 5 kilograms a special permit from the German Luftfahrtbehoerde is needed for each flight.
What are micro drones?
The Army Exchange and other stores sell micro drones. Micro drones are little aircrafts that can fit in the palm of a hand and are considered toys. The same laws and restrictions apply to micro drones as with any other unmanned aricraft under 250 grams.
What do I need to do when my drone has contact with manned aircraft like a hot air balloon?
The drone pilot is in evasive duty and has to fly around the manned aircraft.
Can I fly at night?
A special permit from the Luftfahrtbehoerde is required for each night flight. If this area is in an air controlled area you need also the permit from the Deutsche Flugsicherung, which is present at each airport tower of controlled traffic regions or CTRs.
Can I fly on-post or in the training area?
It’s prohibited to fly your recreational drone on-post. The department of the Army G3/5/7 aviation directorate released a memorandum with an directed ban of recreational drones on U.S. Army installations.
For more information please see the USAG Bavaria Policy Memorandum #19 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
The same rules apply for off-post housing and government leased quarters just like anywhere else in Germany. For example; the Netzaberg community is off-post, however, the Netzaberg housing area falls within the no-fly zone training area.
Why it is dangerous to fly drones on-post?
“We control every aspect of aircraft and military drones, we are de-conflicting air traffic,” said Avery Mayfield, Grafenwoehr Air Traffic and Airspace Officer. “If you are not part of the process you can become a hazard to others. It’s dangerous for military operations.”
What if I want to fly my drone for my business?
If you plan to use the aircraft to make money, such as taking aerial photos of buildings and charging customers for it, the regulations are slightly different.
Drones under 5 kilograms can be used without any special permits like for heavier drones, however there are certain rules to follow in addition to the private drone rules.
For commercial flights it is mandatory to be in accordance with all private drone regulations, in addition you need to log each flight. If you take photos from buildings or land, the owner’s permission is necessary. The same applies of course for people in the photos or videos.
If the project is within city limits, an additional step is needed: a short call to the “Ordnungsamt” or German regulatory office or the German Polizei.