• Everything you need to know about Spanish Drone Laws in 2020

Spanish Drone Laws 2020

– All about RD 1036/2017 –

To fly a drone in Spain is something we’re increasingly used to, in fact, we’ve been involved in a real RPAS revolution for some time now. But, before to take off, you must to know all about Spanish drone laws.

In this article, you will find answers to all the doubts you may have before flying a drone in Spain.

What is the Spanish drone law in force in 2020?

As you probably know, the body responsible for regulating the use of drones in Spain is the Spanish Agency for Aviation Safety (AESA). Also, the regulatory framework for the use of RPAS in Spain is governed by Royal Decree 1036/2017 of 15 December, which amends Royal Decree 552/2014 of 27 June.

The old law framed, quite strictly, the flight with professional drones and did not take into consideration recreational flights. It also did not cover every operational scenario, leaving too many loopholes in a booming sector.

The new Spanish drone laws expands the possibilities of professional flight, especially in urban areas or night flights. It also regulates limitations for recreational drone flying in Spain.

You can read and download the complete document by clicking here:
https://www.boe.es/eli/es/rd/2017/12/15/1036

Do I need a license to fly a drone in Spain?

If you want to fly drones professionally, it is mandatory to have a drone license; you also must be registered as a drone operator with the Spanish Aviation Safety Agency (AESA).

Besides, it will be mandatory to own a LAPL class medical certificate for drones up to 25 kg, and a class II certificate for RPAS weighing more than 25 kg.

However, to flight a recreational drone, it is only necessary to have the knowledge to pilot the aircraft safely, through a rating in an ATO approved by EASA, for example. The maximum weight for consideration of a recreational drone is 2 kg.

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Updated recreational drone regulations in Spain

In the case of recreational drones weighing between 251 gr and 2 kg, this new regulatory framework establishes a series of guidelines that respond, above all, to the need to safeguard the Data Protection Act or the Right to Honor and Privacy of third parties.

Requirements for recreational drones flight in Spain

To fly recreational drones according to Spanish drone laws, pilots will have to comply with the following guidelines:

  • The drone, must always stay within visual range of the pilot.
  • Never exceed 120 m in flight.
  • Do not fly in a minimum of 8 km from any airport, aerodrome or controlled airspace.
  • Liability insurance is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended to have one. The pilot will be responsible for any damage caused by the aircraft.
  • The drone must have a fireproof identification plate fixed on the structure that will contain data such as the manufacturer’s name, model, serial number (if applicable) and the pilot’s contact details.
  • Protect the right to privacy of individuals who may appear in the images captured by the drone, and take special care with their public disclosure in order not to violate the Data Protection Act.
  • You must not fly over people and, in addition, you must safeguard the Right to Honour and Privacy.

Spanish laws for less than 250 gr recreational drones.

You may think that flying a drone under 250 grams in Spain is exempt from any kind of regulation, but nothing is further from the truth.

Although it is true that with this type of drones, the Spanish laws are much more permissive, there are still some guidelines you must meet to fly legally and safely.

  • You can fly over crowds of people, urban areas or buildings, as long as you do not exceed 20 meters in height from the ground.
  • You cannot fly in National Parks, wildlife conservation areas, Biosphere Reserves, and other protected natural areas.
  • You must respect the rule of not flying within a radius of 8 km from any airport, aerodrome or other controlled air spaces.
  • If your drone carries a camera, you must also be careful not to violate the Data Protection Act and the Right to Honour and Privacy.
  • Even if your drone weighs less than 250 grams, you must follow certain rules.

In addition to following the laws, you may fly with common sense.

When flying a drone in Spain, or anywhere else, it is necessary to follow not only the regulations but also common sense. It is of vital importance to ensure the safety of the airspace and people to fly responsibly and prudently.

Similarly, it is essential to fly in good weather conditions (no rain, no fog, no wind) and not to fly the aircraft beyond the visual range.

Try to keep up to date with the various restrictions that the State Agency for Aviation Safety is implementing. At Grupo One Air, we will keep you informed of all the news.

Does the drone need an ID badge?

Whether you fly professionally or as a hobby, Spanish drone laws says that drones weighing between 251 g and 2 kg must be appropriately identified by a fireproof plate attached to the housing that indicates the following:

  • Manufacturer
  • Drone type
  • Model
  • Serial number
  • Pilot’s name and contact details

These data must be marked on the plate by an approved fireproof method, such as chemical engraving, stamping, embossing or written in indelible ink, clearly and legibly.

Drone stations must also carry an identification plate with the name of the owner and contact details.

New operational scenarios in
Spanish drone regulations

With the approval of RD 1036/2017, the use of drones was regulated in new circumstances not previously contemplated.

One of the main limitations of the previous regulation was the ban on flights with drones over urban areas and towns in general.

We have prepared this little guide to help you understand some of the most commented concepts of the Spanish dron laws that regulates the use of drones in Spain, the RD 1036/2017.

Night flights

With the new regulations, night flights are allowed under the express authorization of AESA, through the submission of a Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA).

As an extra measure of guarantee, the drone must incorporate some kind of element that maximizes its visibility in the context of night flights: eye-catching paint, reflective bands, lights, etc.

In addition, to carry out the night flight, the drone must not exceed 10 kg in weight, in which case the operation will be denied for safety reasons.

Drone flight in urban areas

One of the most eagerly awaited novelties in Spanish drone laws brought by the RD 1036 of 2017, is to expand the possibilities of professional flying in urban areas or other inhabited zones.

With the current regulations, to fly drones in these conditions, you must maintain a maximum distance of 100 meters to the drone and a height of 120 meters above the tallest building within a radius of 600 meters.

Besides, you must meet these other requirements:

  • The aircraft must not exceed 10 kg in weight for civil, structural and heritage safety reasons.
  • The flight must always be within the pilot’s visual line of the sight (VLOS).
  • A safety margin of 50 horizontal meters between the drone and any building is recommended.
  • The drone must be equipped with some kind of shock absorber system, such as a parachute, airbag or similar.

And of course, you must ask for authorisation to AESA through the already mentioned SORA.

Flying in controlled airspace in Spain (CTR)

It will be possible for RPAS equipped with a Mode S transponder, except for those >25kg flying in VLOS (under the pilot’s visual range).

If you want to fly drones in controlled airspace, it is mandatory to have an Aeronautical Radio Operator’s license and to prove the command of the language in which the relevant communications take place.

Besides, and as in night flights, it will be necessary to submit an AESA safety report to obtain explicit authorization.

Beyond Visual Line of Sight Flights (BVLOS)

For aircraft with MTOM>2kg (maximum take-off mass), BVLOS flights are permitted provided that the drone incorporates systems to detect and avoid other airspace users, and has a forward-facing camera.

On this type of BVLOS flight, the height of the drone will also be limited to 120 meters above the highest object in a radius of 150 meters around it.

Again, express authorisation will be required from AESA through the submission of the relevant safety report.

Flying within Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS)

The Spanish drone laws contemplates and allows this mode of flight as long as there is a visual observer who meets the following requirements:

  • The observer must keep continuous and direct visual contact with the aircraft.
  • Also, the pilot and the observer must keep in continuous communication.
  • The visual observer must be able to demonstrate at least sufficient theoretical knowledge to operate a drone safely.

So, when do you I have to ask for an AESA
Authorisation to fly a drone in Spain?

In short, you must ask for authorisation from AESA every time you want to carry out a flight in any of the following situations:

  • The cases in which the regulations themselves require a safety study to be carried out. This requirement is essential every time you carry out flights in populated areas and also in events where there are meetings of people.
  • In flights beyond the visual line of sight BVLOS.
  • In operations that you carry out in areas of controlled airspace.
  • Also, in operations with drones over 25 kg.
  • Whenever you want to make night flights.

How to know where to fly drones in Spain

You may be a little confused by this flood of information right now and not quite sure where the drone is allowed to fly, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. Spain is vast, and there are many areas where drone flying is possible, both for leisure and professional purposes.

VLOS or FPV flights (within the direct visual range of the pilot) in unpopulated areas of our geography are allowed without having to request any specific permission or authorization, provided that they are daytime flights and the maximum distances established are met.

The regulation establishes that 500 meters of distance and 400 feet of altitude are allowed in this modality of flight. In a horizontal radius is 150 meters around the aircraft, you can reach 400 feet in height to the object or element of the higher ground.

ENAIRE Drones, the official app to know where to fly your RPAS

The ENAIRE Drones website, belonging to the Ministry of Development, is the digital platform created primarily to provide all the aeronautical information necessary to fly your drone safely, whether for recreational, professional or experimental purposes.

Also available from its specific APP, ENAIRE provides us with a useful questionnaire in which we will indicate, before each flight, the type of drone we want to fly, as well as the purposes for which we do so.

In this way, we will be offered information adapted to our circumstances, and we will be able to know with certainty the operational limits that should govern our flights in Spanish territory according to Spanish drone laws..

Besides, the most exciting thing about ENAIRE is its intuitive map adapted to the specific configuration according to our previous questionnaire. In it, we will be able to draw and plan our flight route, measure the distances to be covered, identify the areas with declared NOTAM or even do a search and delimit a specific area to see the state of the airspace.

VIDEO | This is ENAIRE Drones

Video presentation of the ENAIRE Drones website, the official tool to know where to fly your drone in Spain.

Different drone regulations if you are going to travel outside Spain

Remember that each country has different legislation on air safety, so if you are going to fly a drone, you must consult the regulations in question and you will have to ask permission from the competent bodies.

If you have already read our post about the Drone Law in the USA, you will know everything you have to do if you want to fly your drone in the American country. But what about the rest of the destinations?

International Drone Laws Map

On this collaborative map, you can see the status of drone regulations in all countries of the world. It’s a great resource as a first contact with the legislation of the country you’re interested in.

Click on the image to go to the map
(Opens a new window)

But remember, this is not official information, so the next thing you should do is consult the current regulations, which you can access from the same map, in most cases, by clicking on the detailed information for each country.

Future changes to Drones Law in Spain in 2020

If you are more or less up to date with the drone industry in Spain, you may know that during this year 2020, essential changes in the Spanish regulations are coming.

Given the speed at which the sector is advancing, and with the emergence of new technological advances in the field of RPAS, the regulations must be adapted to all possible problems as soon as possible.

Therefore, in July, a new European regulation by EASA will be implemented, which aims to homogenize the European framework in terms of licenses, rules and operational categories.

What developments are expected
in the Spanish drone law in 2020?

This year, new features are expected such as the creation of a single registry of operators, or the implementation of electronic registration, as well as new geofencing systems to prevent flight in restricted areas.

However, the most striking feature expected from the new drone regulation in 2020 is the implementation of three new categories to establish restrictions on flying.

They would then be divided into:

  • Open category, which would include low-risk flights operated by amateur pilots
  • Specific category, for medium-risk operations that require authorisation.
  • Certified category, reserved for high risk flights, for which the pilot must be certified as an operator.

At Grupo One Air, we will keep you informed of any changes in Spanish drone laws so that you can fly your drone safely. And if you still have any doubt to solve, we invite you to visit the FAQ section about RD 1036/2017 in AESA’s website.

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