• Everything you need to know about Spanish Drone Laws in 2024

Spanish Drone Laws 2024

Everything you need to know before flying a drone

What is the Spanish drone law in force in 2024?

As you probably know, the body responsible for regulating the use of drones in Spain is the Spanish Agency for Aviation Safety (AESA). It is also in charge of everything related to Air Navigation and Transport, as well as Airport Security.

As far as drone regulations in Spain are concerned, we are currently almost at the end of the transitional period between the full implementation of European Regulations RE 2019/947 and RD 2019/945 and the previous regulations.

And where do we stand? Well, as of 1 January 2024, the UAS class marking and direct remote identification of RD (EU) 2019/945 has come into force. We will explain this in more detail below.

At One Air, we are attentive to all the news that is unveiled and that we will tell you on this page. All the information provided here is based on AESA communications but, due to continuous changes, it may not apply to all operational cases.

You can read and download the complete document (in Spanish) by clicking here:

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

One of the new developments following the entry into force of the new drone regulations in Spain is the change in the requirements for flying drones, regardless of whether it is for leisure or work. This distinction has been completely eliminated.

Since 2021, the Official Drone Pilot Licence has continued to be applicable for Security Forces and Corps (FCS); while for the rest of the people, for drones from 250 grams, it is mandatory to obtain a certificate that accredits a minimum of knowledge, and that will allow the flight of drones in the different established categories.

Thus, to fly drones in the open category of the new UAS Regulations, it is compulsory to pass the corresponding exam at AESA, which may be Level 1 or Level 2, depending on the risk of the operation. And to fly in the specific category, it will be necessary to pass the AESA Level 3 exam to operate in the standard scenarios contemplated therein.

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What should you know before flying a drone in Spain?

As we have already mentioned, there is no longer a distinction between professional and recreational flying; therefore, anyone who wants to fly drones in Spain must take into account the same considerations.

Furthermore, regardless of the category in which it will operate, some guidelines have been implemented in 2024, such as class marking and new requirements for operating in specific categories, as well as the extinction of the standard operating scenarios in Spain, since only European scenarios will exist from August 2024.

General restrictions for flying drones in Spain

  • The drone, must always stay within visual range of the pilot (except in specific category under STS BVLOS).
  • 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 mandatory. Insurance must be taken out to cover third party liability for damage that may be caused by a flight, whether recreational or professional. In Spain, it is also compulsory for drones weighing less than 250 grams.
  • 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 drones under 250 gr.

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 must pass, as a minimum, the AESA Level 1 exam to obtain the certificate that will allow you to fly your drone in subcategories A1 and A3 in the open category.
  • You must not exceed 120 meters in height from the ground or 50 metres in horizontal distance.
  • 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.
  • Your UAS must have a class marking.
  • As mentioned above, you must have liability insurance.
  • 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 it need an Electronic ID?

Another important change is the introduction of Electronic ID, a remote identifier that will be mandatory for certain flights, especially in urban environments and certain categories. This identifier will allow remote identification of drones.

Operators who want to fly in the open category (A1, A2 and A3), who have a UAS with class C1, C2 and C3 markings, and even those who want to operate in a specific category (under the national and European standard scenario) will have to have an electronic ID.

New operational categories in Spanish drone regulations

Depending on the risk of the flight operation, there are three operational categories included in the drone regulations:

  • Open category: The risk is very low, as these are operations that do not require authorisation or prior notification. This category has three sub-categories: A1, A2 and A3.
  • Specific category: In this category, the risk is medium. These are operations that require an operational approval (i.e. operations under EASA approval) or an operational declaration based on a standard scenario.
  • Certified category: Higher risk category. These are operations that require certification of both the UAS and the operator, as well as a remote pilot licence.

General conditions for flying drones in open category

Although the open category is divided into three subcategories, with different training requirements and particular operating conditions, there are general flight limitations that apply to all of them that you should be aware of:

  • You must always fly the drone within visual range (VLOS), except if you are using ‘follow me’ mode or have a spotter, in which case you may make use of first-person view (FPV) devices.
  • You may not exceed 120 metres above the surface.
  • In the event of an encounter with a manned aircraft, you must reduce your altitude, perform evasive manoeuvres to avoid a possible collision and land the drone as soon as possible.
  • The overflight of groups of people is not permitted.
  • The transport of dangerous goods is strictly forbidden.

Flights in specific category

The operations included in the specific category of the new drone laws are those that do not meet the requirements of the open category or the certified category. You have all the information in our post about the new European drone regulation.

If what you want is to be able to fly in the Specific category (standard operational scenarios) and on European territory, things will change from August 2024, when the Spanish scenarios (STS-ES) will cease to exist.

It should be noted that this category includes medium-risk operations that cannot be performed in Open.

And what do you need to operate in Specific? Well, you need to be a registered operator in Spain and apply for and obtain an operating authorisation from EASA, or submit a declaration for an operation that fits the standard scenario.

For the European standard areas, there are two classes of UAS, both with an MTOM of more than 25 kilos:

  • C5, where STS-01 operations can be conducted with flights where the drone remains within the line of sight of the pilot and in a controlled ground area in a populated environment.
  • C6, where STS-02 operations are permitted, with flights where the aircraft may be beyond the line of sight of the pilot and over a sparsely populated controlled area.

As far as the European standard scenarios are concerned, something exceptional has happened: until 30 August 2024 (not 1 January as the authorities had warned), drone operators will still be able to submit declarations of compliance with the STS-ES. However, an operational declaration based on STS-01 and STS-02, i.e. the European scenarios, can already be submitted from 1 January.

General requirements for flying in certified category

In order for a flight operation to be considered within the certified category of the new drone laws, it must incur a high-risk circumstance, such as:

  • Flights over crowds of people with drones larger than 3 metres.
  • The transport of people.
  • The transport of dangerous goods.

Also all those operations that, according to the relevant safety study, involve risks that are impossible to mitigate without the certification of the drone, the operator or without requiring a pilot’s licence.

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

In summary, you must request authorisation from AESA every time you want to operate a flight in any of the following situations:

  • Flights in specific category that do not correspond to the established STS standard scenarios.
  • Certified category 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 authorisation, provided that they are daytime flights and the maximum distances established are met.

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

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.

It is also intended that all EU countries will have a single set of rules. This has already been glimpsed with the implementation of European standard scenarios, but it goes further. Countries will also retain a degree of regulatory flexibility, particularly in the area of UAS zones, i.e. areas where flying is restricted, limited or permitted.

However, the question of what the European Union regulates and what each country regulates is still up in the air. In the case of Spain, we are still waiting for the Royal Decree that will limit these competences.

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 2023

If you are more or less up to date with the drone industry in Spain, you may know that during this year 2023, essential changes in the Spanish regulations are coming.

To make sure you don’t miss a single detail, we recommend our post on the new European regulation that aims to homogenise the European framework in terms of licences, standards and operational categories.

Given the speed at which the sector is advancing, and with the emergence of new technological advances in the field of drones, the regulations must be adapted to all possible problems as soon as possible. We recommend you this post with all the information about U-Space, the European project for the creation of the UTM.

And remember that, at One Air, we will keep you informed of everything related to changes in the regulations so that you can fly your drone safely.

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