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Legal framework Hobby drone: What drone pilots need to consider
Unmanned flying objects, or drones for short, have been the trend for years. They are available for every budget, even as a kit in the Christmas calendar for children. Accordingly, one hears frequently of near-collisions and accidents, caused by drones. With the increasing use of small flying objects, the legal framework has also changed.
When do you need one for your drone Approval?
Within Germany there are certain regulations for handling drones. The use of aircraft is regulated in the Aviation Act and in the Aviation Regulations. According to this, drones are unmanned aviation systems, provided they are "not used exclusively for sports or leisure, but are used for a commercial purpose". In the case of purely recreational use, on the other hand, they are considered model aircraft, the use of which is less strictly regulated.
Drone flights in purely private use only require a permit if the device weighs more than five kilos. In the case of lighter models, you do not need an official permit to use them. Since autumn 2017, flying drones weighing more than two kilograms has only been allowed with a "drone driver's license". There is a minimum age for this: 16 years. In view of the existing actual and legal risks, it is generally advisable for children and young people to do this under supervision.
Attention: drones weighing more than 250 grams must be marked with the address of the owner in order to be able to identify the owner more easily in the event of damage. If you want to work commercially, for example to create and sell aerial photographs, you need an ascent permit from the relevant state authorities.
Where can you fly - and how high?
- The maximum flight altitude for a drone is 100 meters. If you want to fly higher, you need a special permit.
- There is a general flight ban in sensitive areas such as crowds or locations where the police and rescue workers operate.
- In the vicinity of the 16 international German commercial airports, a so-called control zone of individual location and extent protects the traffic arriving and departing from the airport. The use of drones and model aircraft is strictly prohibited within a distance of 1.5 kilometers from the airport fence. Outside this distance, every aircraft that flies into the control zone requires clearance from air traffic control. This also applies to drones.
- In principle, flight operations may only take place within the direct line of sight of the controller. Additional aids such as binoculars, on-board cameras, night vision devices or similar technical aids must not be used to extend the range of vision. The visibility corresponds to a maximum distance of 200 to 300 meters in open space. With regard to the flight altitude, some federal states provide a maximum of 30 to 100 meters. During the flight, the airspace, especially with regard to other traffic, must be constantly monitored by the helmsman or a second person who is in contact with the helmsman.
- If a drone gets out of control, this must be reported to air traffic control immediately.
In principle, flying with drones is subject to insurance. Regardless of whether this is done purely for hobby purposes or out of commercial ambitions. Liability insurance is a law. What many do not know: private liability insurance usually does not cover this! Additional insurance must therefore be taken out.
If the drone crashes due to a technical error or even due to incorrect operation, liability insurance ensures that the sometimes immense costs are reimbursed if the worst comes to the worst. The agreed amount of insurance or coverage is particularly important for liability insurance because it determines the maximum amount for reimbursement in the event of damage.
Personal rights and copyrights
Aside from the ascent permits and the purposes for which a drone is used, there are other legal issues to consider:
- Only fly where you are allowed to: Do not steer the drone over areas and properties that you are not allowed to enter. Ownership relationships also apply in the air.
- Ask property owner: Always ask the property owner for permission before the flight.
- Personal rights: The right to one's own image is one of our legally anchored personal rights. Those who don't want to be photographed don't have to put up with it. This also applies to images from cameras mounted on drones.
- Experts also point out that drones pose a threat to privacy and are therefore not allowed to fly around anywhere without further ado. There is a risk of a warning or even an injunction if you violate this.
- When publishing photos or videos on the web, of course, the provisions of copyright law apply as they are generally applicable to photography.
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