To know where you can fly a drone in the Spanish territory I will explain you where you can NOT fly. I will tell you which are the restricted areas for drone flight in Spain.
In drone piloting it is essential that there is a perfect coexistence both in the air and on the ground, since drones are in close contact with aerial and terrestrial elements, this is the main difference that drones have with the rest of the aircrafts that circulate in the air.
“Where can you fly a drone?“, you might be asking yourself this question over and over again if lately you have in mind the idea of buying a drone to get into the exciting aeronautical world.
The easiest way to find out where to fly a drone is by consulting the Enaire Drones website.
Once inside the website you will have to choose the type of operation you are going to do (recreational or professional), select the point where you want to fly and you will automatically be able to see on the map if you can fly freely or if you have flight restrictions and which ones, through markings on the map and a ‘floating’ information box that appears on the left.
Pre-flight operation considerations
This article is a bit theoretical, and although you can read it from beginning to end, its main purpose is not that, rather it is made for you to consult, through the index, and find the information of the flight zone in which you are interested.
Before knowing where you can fly a drone/UAS (unmanned aircraft system), it is important that you know and understand a little about the regulations and minimum requirements to fly a drone in Spain.
You can fly a drone without a license and without having to register as an operator, but on the other hand, there are others that to fly them you must obtain a flight license, register as a drone pilot/operator and have a UAS operator number.
Consult my article in case this is your case and you have to register as a drone operator in Spain.
Permitted and restricted areas for flying a drone
With the arrival of the European UAS regulation on 31 December 2020, in addition to the flight limitations already known in the various type of drone categories: ‘open category‘, ‘specific category‘ and ‘certified category’; the concept of UAS geographic zones is introduced, which make up the amount of airspace in which drone operations may be permitted, restricted or excluded.
AESA defines the areas where a drone can be flown depending on the location and type of operation with different legislation depending on if the operation is:
- Recreational: sporting, recreational, competition or exhibition activities, as well as activities that are specific to toy drones.
- Professional: Specialized, technical or scientific operations. Commercial or non-commercial as long as they have a research or development purpose, agroforestry, photography, surveillance, filming, aerial advertising.
Basically, if the purpose of the images that you are going to obtain does not have an economic use, it can be said that they are recreational operations.
Drone flights over building clusters in cities and towns
- Permitted to drones of not > 250gr and operating at a height of not > 20m.
- They must always adhere to the rules of subcategory A1 of the ‘open’ category.
- Limited to UAS with a MTOM of 10kg.
- The flight must be conducted at pilot’s lookout (VLOS).
- Maximum horizontal distance NOT > 100m
- Impact energy limiting device: parachutes, and zonal delimiters (delimiters) of the working area, which in any case must have a minimum horizontal safety distance of 50 metres from buildings, structures or persons: cones. This delimitation must be done by the competent authority or by the competent authority. Please note that each Autonomous Community may have additional requirements, so please check each case.
- Development of an EAS (aeronautical safety study) by the operator.
- Prior notification to the Ministry of the Interior at least 10 days before the flight is required. (Recreational operations may also be required from 2024 onwards).
- If operating in ‘specific’ category – operational declaration for flying in a controlled land area in a populated environment.
- If operating ‘specific’ category – operational authorisation.
Drone flights over people in the open air
In this category, Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 does not allow the overflight of concentrations of persons. Concentrations of people are defined as groups of people so dense that they cannot move freely to avoid the impact of the drone in the event of a fall.
Specific (and/or certified) category
Requires prior authorisation by EASA or recognition by EASA of an authorisation issued by another EASA Member State.
Drone flights near airports, airfields and heliports
These areas are one of the most controversial, as it is often unclear to drone pilots where a drone can be flown. Below you will find a list of airports, aerodromes and heliports in Spain and instructions on how to apply for permits to fly your drone in these areas.
Drones and model aircraft must be flown at a minimum distance of 8kms from the reference point (control tower), and up to a distance of 6kms counting from the threshold in the direction away from the runway.
This distance may be reduced if agreed with the airport managing body and, if any, the infrastructure service provider.
In this article you will find extended information about aeromodelling on the AESA website.
Likewise, operations may not be conducted closer than 8kms, and 6km from the threshold distance as in recreational operations, and more than 15km in operations beyond visual range (BVLOS) (AESA Visual Flight Guidance).
This distance can always be reduced if agreed by the operator, through a coordination model between restricted aerodromes and drone operators (page 17), and if available, with the aerodrome air traffic service provider (ATSP).
Estas evidencias de coordinaciones siempre tienen que quedar a disposición de AESA, normalmente se encarga de cursas esta coordinación el aeródromo, al menos ha sido mi experiencia hasta ahora.
Controlled Traffic Region (CTR) or in a flight information zone (FIZ)
This type of operation is not allowed in controlled airspace (CTR) and FIZ zones, and will only be possible from infrastructures designed for UAS flight, and whose manager has coordinated the conditions with the air traffic service provider (ATS).
The conduct of operations in this area is subject to a number of requirements:
- Equipment and training. According to article 33.1.e of RD 1036/2017, it is necessary to have radio equipment (walkie-talkie) that allows two-way communication with the aeronautical stations (control tower). It is also compulsory to have a radio operator’s certificate with which to accredit the knowledge to establish this communication correctly.
I have the Yaesu FTA-450L, and it’s a real blast.
- Coordinated aeronautical safety study (EAS) and coordination of operations with the Air Traffic Service Provider (ATSP). These types of operations require a specific operational risk assessment and mitigation (EARO) coordinated with the ATSP as a means of clarifying the safety of the operation to be conducted.
An EARO validated by the ATSP is evidence of coordination of an EAS.
I will write about this in future articles.
- Plan de vuelo ATS (servicios de tránsito aéreo) y autorización ATC o comunicación al personal AFIS (información de vuelo de aeródromo). Para cumplir con el RD 1180/2018 las operaciones con UAS en espacio aéreo controlado y/o FIZ deben:
- Submit a flight plan (specific guidance) for ATS (FPL message). It should be indicated that it is an unmanned flight.
- Obtain prior authorisation from the ATS or communication to AFIS of the flights to be performed.
Flights in prohibited (P), restricted (R), dangerous (D) and sensitive wildlife (F) areas
All activities carried out in these areas, regardless of the weight of your drone, require prior permission to be granted if it is feasible to fly.
They may only be carried out unless the competent authority has enabled spaces for this purpose and they are reflected in point 5.5 of the AIP and in the ENAIRE DRONES app.
In order to carry out professional activities, the operator shall comply with the conditions and limitations described in each area and shall have:
- Prior authorisation by the Spanish State for the P areas
- Competent authorities for all other areas (R, D and F)
NOTAMs (notice to airmen) are notices that will allow us to modify the times and/or limits of hazardous areas (D), segregate or temporarily delimit spaces (TSA) and reserve them (TRA).
If you want to fly one of these areas and you want to check the current status to see if there are any NOTAMs currently available, you can consult these portals: ICAROXXI of ENAIRE, ENAIRE DRONES or INSIGNIA.
The overflight of natural areas (RED Natura 2000 and geographic viewers of the competent Ministry) will always be under the authorisation of the manager of the protected area, always complying with the established restrictions and legislation.
In the ENAIRE DRONES map, these areas are reflected in the layers “protected natural areas” and “special protection areas for birds”.
Photographic flight restricted areas (PFRZ)
The definition is perfectly clear from the title. And they are restricted because they are areas (point 5.7 and in ENAIRE DRONES in the “RFV” layer) with protected and reserved content because they are classified information.
Any activity involving the taking of photographs or video sequences is subject to what the Ministry of Defence determines and therefore a prior request must be made to the CECAF (Cartographic and Photographic Centre of the Air Force).
Flights over installations affecting national defence and nuclear power plants
Such flights are strictly prohibited here, including its security zone.
This may only be done with the express prior permission of the Infrastructure Manager.
Flights over/around critical facilities and infrastructure
Absolutely forbidden. In any case, overflight of chemical, transport, energy and water facilities and infrastructure must be done at a minimum height of 50m, and at a minimum horizontal distance of 25m from their axis (linear infrastructure) and no less than 10m away from their outer perimeter in all other cases. More info.
This may only be done with the express prior permission of the Infrastructure Manager.
The overflight of critical infrastructures are subject to general prohibitions and limitations established in article 32.2 paragraph 2 of the RC 1036/2017, except for those that may be established by the Secretary of State for Security of the Ministry of the Interior on a singular and permanent basis, which shall be published in the AIP. More info on critical infrastructure.
[In any case, overflight of facilities….] (Exactly as in recreational activities)
Do you already know the ENAIRE map, do you think the explanation of the areas where you can fly in Spain is clear, and would you like to add anything? Go ahead, I’ll read you.
Thank you for taking the time to respond and let me know your queries, clarifications or comments.