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.
Regarding Spanish drone laws, currently, the European Regulations RE 2019/947 and RD 2019/945 have started to be applied. In addition, Royal Decree 1036/2017, of 15 December, which amends RD 552/2014, of 27 June, will remain in force until 1 January 2022.
During this year, a new RD is expected to be published to regulate drone flight in Spain and update the current regulations regarding the European regulation. In addition, AESA has not yet made a decision on many aspects, so we urge you to be cautious when flying your drone.
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.
During 2021, the Official Drone Pilot Licence will continue 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.
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 you are going to operate, there are a series of prohibitions that you must take into account in order to fly your drone legally.
- 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 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 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.
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.
You do not need to register your drone, unless it is certified. What is mandatory is your registration with AESA, regardless of how many drones you have operating.
Registration will be valid for 5 years and will be recognised in all EASA member countries. You are only exempt from registration if your drone is considered a ‘toy’ according to directive 2009/48/EC.
However, all drones weighing 251 grams or more must be appropriately identified by a fireproof plate attached to the housing that indicates the following:
- Drone type
- 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.
Depending on the risk of the flight operation, there are three operational categories included in the drone regulations:
- Open category, for low-risk flights without the need for authorisation.
- Specific category, for medium risk flights in standard scenarios without declaration, or with authorisation if it is not within these standard scenarios.
- Certified category, for high risk operations requiring a regulatory regime similar to that of manned aviation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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.
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.