With the appearance of drones, it was quickly imminent that regulations are needed to ensure the safety and security of people and deliveries. While the law and restrictions related to drones may differ from country to country, there is one significant global commonality: drones are differentiated as recreational and commercial flights.
Given the nature of owning a hobby drone, fewer restrictions and regulations are related to their use. The focus is on the safety of the people operating them and people present in their catchment area. The maximum height for hobby drones is around 120m to ensure they do not in any way interfere with any aircraft. Generally, the same rules apply to operating a drone than flying a car, such as one must not be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and any other kind of substance. Drones should be operated during daylight and not allowed or only allowed to fly with special permissions during the night.
The most significant difference between recreational and commercial drones is that these later need to be officially registered. In the USA, the actual drone has to be registered, and the pilot receives a certification from the FAA. In Europe, the drone is not required to be registered, but the pilot has to get a certification number from the Civil Aviation Authority. The European Aviation Safety Agency keeps track of three different types of drones:
- Open, the restrictions are most similar to the recreation drones.
- Specific and Certified, the much high restrictions and certified drones may even carry passengers or dangerous goods.
Within Europe, the regulations may vary, but recreational drones are required to stay in sight of the operator at all times. In some countries, such as Austria, the owner may require drone insurance for recreational and commercial use. In France, the drones are required to be tested before flying both recreational and commercial and may not pass over Paris without an extra permit.
In Germany, bigger-size drones require a skill test before flying, and the bigger drones must be labeled with the owner’s details. In the Netherlands, recreational drones aren’t allowed to fly over a group of people or overpopulated living areas, and these can only be operated in green, no-fly areas. In Spain, drones cannot be operated within an 8 km radius from the airport. In The United Kingdom, drones cannot fly over 500 meters, but they can obtain special permission to be able to fly beyond visual line of sight. Drones over 29g require special approval, and the machines have to be labeled.
Operating recreational drones can be great fun, but these regulations ensure that the machines are operated safely, and they don’t impose a health hazard to the owner or bystanders. Commercial drones need to be carefully regulated to ensure safe deliveries, public safety and to avoid the misuse of drone services.