If you plan to use drones in your company, you usually need an operational authorisation. First and foremost, this depends on the operating category in which the drone flight is intended to take place. Namely, the following applies: a flight that cannot be defined in the operating category “open” falls into the higher-risk and permit-requiring category “specific”. This would be the case, for example, if a 5 kg drone should be flown above 120 m or closer than 150 m to residential or industrial areas.
In the “specific” category, a permit is required, which can be applied for in the form of an operational declaration, operational authorisation, or a light UAS operator certificate. The following graphic shows the requirements for the various approval procedures and options.
For each procedure, we will publish a separate article on our blog.
It should be mentioned that there are still transitional regulations due to the new EU drone regulation and the recently adapted aviation laws in Germany. We will take up and summarize these again at the end of the blog series.
In this part, we will first start with the operational declaration, the easiest way to get a permit if the conditions are met.
THE OPERATIONAL DECLARATION
The operational declaration is a written statement that the flight is in the “specified” operating category, but only involves a minimally increased risk. A predefined standard scenario (STS) can be invoked here.
A statement of UAS operation is sufficient if the following criteria are met in compliance with the STS:
The pilot flies a C-classified UAV with a maximum characteristic dimension (e.g., diameter) of
- up to 3 m in VLOS over a controlled area on the ground, not over crowds,
- up to 1 m in VLOS, but not over crowds,
- up to 1 m in BVLOS, over sparsely populated areas,
- up to 3 m in BVLOS, above a controlled area on the ground,
- below 120 m altitude and over controlled airspace (i.e., not airspace F or G).
THE STANDARD SCENARIOS
STSs are intended to reduce the burden on agencies during permitting processes and cover most use cases.
Germany has currently defined two STS (according to Appendix 1 of the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/639), which are expected to apply from 03.12.2023: