There are 5 minimum requirements to fly a drone in Spain, which are set to be in place as of 31 December 2020.
From my experience flying drones for some years now, I know very well what these requirements are, especially in Mallorca, where I live and where I have flown most frequently. So if you are thinking of flying a drone in Mallorca I recommend you to read my article so you can fly your drone with peace of mind.
Remember that ignorance of the rules does not exempt you from responsibility, this means that not knowing the drone flight regulations does not exempt you from blame and punishment if you violate and break the rules when flying a UAS.
Fines for flying a drone can be quite heavy. Familiarise yourself with these requirements and avoid unpleasant surprises.
The layout and operation of some rules of the administration of each autonomous community may be different, so before flying a drone in Spain I recommend that you find out about possible local flight prohibitions and restrictions.
The 5 requirements for flying a drone
Register as a drone operator
This requirement might be the main requirement of all and I would say the most important of all to fly a drone in Spain. If you do not register and register as a drone operator with AESA you should consider not flying a drone, unless it is a drone that you can fly without a licence.
If you are finally obliged to register as an operator or you want to do it on your own account, at the end of the registration process you will get an operator number according to European regulations.
This number must be present on your drone in some way, either with a fireproof plate (it is no longer mandatory, and it is unclear whether this number must also appear on the controller), or with a simple sticker, either visibly or hidden inside the battery compartment where the battery is inserted.
Obtaining a drone licence
If you fly a drone under 250gr recreationally, it is not mandatory to obtain a licence to fly drones in Spain, although it is recommended that you do so. An aeronautical training in drones gives you security by knowing the rules and regulations of flight; apart from giving value to our hobby and profession.
If you fly a drone professionally or your drone weighs more than 250 grams, you will be required to take at least the basic theoretical drone course offered by AESA (A1-A3) in order to obtain a licence to fly drones in Spain.
If your flying scenarios become more intricate and more demanding, and depending on the type of drone you will be flying, you will need to obtain more specific piloting licences.
Drone insurance is another very important requirement for flying a drone in Spain as it will protect us legally from problems that we may cause to third parties during our operation with the UAS.
Following the amendment of the Air Navigation Act (art. 11 and 127), and the entry into force of the Royal Decree on UAS for unmanned aircraft, it is mandatory to take out civil liability insurance against third parties for damages you may cause during your flight, and very important both for recreational and professional pilots, unless your drone is a toy drone and is registered as such by the manufacturer in the instructions for use.
In this way I resolve the doubts of many people who think that because they do not fly as professionals they do not need drone insurance, and that it is compulsory to have drone insurance in any of the categories (recreational and professional) in which they fly.
The amounts to be covered by insurance will vary depending on the purpose of the operation and the MTOM of the aircraft being flown and are measured in SDRs (Special Drawing Rights):
- For drones for professional purposes or MTOM (maximum take-off mass) equal to or greater than 20Kg and up to 500Kg, a minimum amount of 750,000 SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) is established (Regulation 785/2004).
- For recreational purposes or MTOM of less than 20Kg, the amount of compensation for damage under the Air Navigation Act and a minimum amount of 220,000 SDRs (Regulation 37/2001) is updated.
To fly a drone in Spain, it is not necessary to have permanent insurance, only the appropriate insurance for each flight.
Current drone regulations
Knowing the drone regulations in force and respecting them is an essential requirement, as you will avoid causing problems to the environment around you, whether they are people or things, regardless of whether you have civil protection insurance or not.
The current drone regulations governing the use of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) address the 3 categories of flight: open, specific and certified. In this drone blog we are going to deal only with the first two.
If you are just starting out in the world of drones, the category you are most interested in being aware of is the ‘open category’, which is the most permissive or least restrictive category, and is where you will be able to fly your drone with the most basic of licences. Very important to read about the ‘open’ category of drones.
Flying a drone in Spain is subject to regulations that depend on the type of drone you are flying, so check in this article which drone you want to fly before you start your operation.
There is also a flight frame questionnaire that helps you in a more practical and direct way to know the operational category in which you are going to fly. Fill it in.
Knowing and interpreting drone flight zones
Of the 5 requirements to fly a drone in Spain that I have talked about in this article, this last one represents the practical part of all the others, and consists of familiarising yourself with the Enaire Drones map, which is fundamental for where you can legally fly a drone in Spain.
Parts of the Enaire Drones map
Here are the parts of this map that you need to be aware of and know how to interpret:
- Aeródromos, aeropuertos y helipuertos: Son las áreas marcadas”en rojo” en el mapa. Los aeródromos y helipuertos tienen un control más local y algunos incluso tienen sus propias solicitudes de permisos de vuelo. Suelen ser más laxos en cuanto a requisitos se refiere.
Volar en aeropuerto o zona de control de tráfico aéreo (CTR, controlled traffic region), será más complicado y restrictivo por razones obvias. Necesitaremos cumplir con muchas cosas como:
- Drone operator’s licence A2 and STS-01, as a minimum.
- Radiophonist Certificate
- Operations Manual
- An EAS (aeronautical safety study), i.e. evidence of coordination between the aeronautical managers in the area of our activity.
- Drone liability insurance
- Flight plan
- Prohibited (P), Restricted (R) and Dangerous (D) areas, and ZEPA areas which are special protection areas for birds. These correspond to the green and brown spots on the map.
- Restricted Photographic Flight Zone (NRVF): In this area marked with a yellow rectangle on the map, you will be able to fly your drone but you will not be able to take images unless you have prior permission. In order to obtain it, you must fill out this application form to fly in areas restricted to photographic flight and send it to CECAF (Cartographic and Photographic Center – Air Force).
The response time of this agency ranges from 5-10 business days.
- NOTAM (Notice To Airmen): These are notifications issued by the different aeronautical authorities to inform pilots about changes or restrictions at airports, procedures or events along a route. These changes are temporary and have a start and end date and time.
- Military zones Critical Infrastructure Protection, Environmental Protection and NOTAM.
If you want me to do an article on how to interpret the Enaire Drones map, leave it in the comments. You can also send me any questions you may have, I will be happy to answer them.