Checklist for drone pilots 

Before launching a drone, every pilot must check a few important points: What requirements do I have to fulfil? What rules must be complied with for my drone? Where can I fly my drone – and where do I need permission to do so? The following checklist provides information on the most important points. 

EU drone regulation 

Uniform rules for the use of drones (unmanned aircraft systems, UAS) apply in all EU countries. These are defined in the European drone regulation. It distinguishes – depending on weight (mass) and performance – between three categories, three subcategories and four risk classes. Detailed information on the EU drone regulation as well as an overview of the current regulations in Germany are provided by the German Federal Office of Civil Aviation (LBA) in the German language.

German Federal Office of Civil Aviation (LBA) (in German only)




Drone categories 

UAS are categorised into three application scenarios: Open, Specific and Certified. The scenarios Specific and Certified refer to special applications of UAS. Most hobby drones and commercial flight systems – and thus the majority of all drones in circulation in this country – fall under the Open category. In the Open category, the following regulations apply:

  • Public liability insurance needed
  • Minimum age 16 years
  • Maximum altitude 120 metres above ground
  • Maximum take-off mass less than 25 kilogrammes
  • Direct visual line of sight between pilot and unmanned aircraft system 
  • Green flashing light at night
  • No flights over groups of people
  • No transport of dangerous goods 
  • No dropping of objects

Further provisions are contained in the subcategories.




Subcategories 

UAS in the Open category are assigned to the subcategories A1 to A3. The subcategories are based on the permissible spectrum of use.

  • A1: Maximum take-off mass less than 900 grammes 
    The drone may approach uninvolved persons, but may not fly over them.
  • A2: Maximum take-off mass up to 4 kilogrammes
    Horizonal distance of 30 metres must be maintained from uninvolved persons. In slow flight mode, the distance may be reduced to five metres.
  • A3: Maximum take-off mass less than 25 kilogrammes
    The drone must maintain a minimum horizontal distance of 150 metres from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.



Registration and marking 

Drone owners are obliged to register drones with a take-off mass of more than 250 grammes with the German Federal Aviation Office (LBA). The same applies to drones equipped with cameras or other recording sensors. For this purpose, the drone operator receives a personal electronic identification number (eID). Some drones that are classified in risk classes C0 to C3 should also have a system that broadcasts the eID independently. The registration number must be visible on the drone.

German Federal Office of Civil Aviation (LBA) 




Risk classes 

In addition, UAS are classified into four different risk classes. The classification is primarily based on the permissible take-off mass of the drone.  

  • C0: Maximum take-off mass less than 250 grammes
    The maximum horizontal speed is 19 metres per second 
  • C1: Maximum take-off mass less than 900 grammes
    The maximum horizontal speed is 19 metres per second 
  • C2: Maximum take-off mass up to 4 kilogrammes
    Certification according to EU regulations  
  • C4: Maximum take-off mass less than 25 kilogrammes
    Certification according to EU regulations



Drone licence 

Anyone who wants to fly a drone must demonstrate they possess the appropriate knowledge to do so. The EU drone regulation
defines two drone 'licences': the EU proof of completion of online training and the EU remote pilot competency certificate.

  • The EU proof of completion of online training is intended to ensure that a drone pilot has the necessary basic knowledge in operating a drone and is familiar with the rules of the EU drone regulation.
  • The EU remote pilot competency certificate is required for all drones with a take-off mass of more than 500 grammes if they are to be operated in the Open category and in subcategory A2, i.e. close to people or at a horizontal distance of less than 150 metres from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.  

The two EU drone pilot licences can be obtained from the German Federal Office of Civil Aviation (LBA).

German Federal Office of Civil Aviation (LBA) (in German only)