New year, new drone regulation -- and it&s a tough one: according to the new EU-wide rules (EU) 2019/947), which came into force on Dec. 31, 2020, operators of camera drones, for example, must register in any case, even if their drone weighs less than 250g like DJI Mavic Mini & Co. This is because the decisive criterion in this case is whether the drone is "equipped with a sensor for the acquisition of personal data, e.g. a camera."
Online registration as a UAS operator (Unmanned Aircraft System = unmanned aircraft system) is carried out via the homepage of the German Federal Aviation Authority. Once registered, each UAS operator will receive an electronic registration number (e-ID), which must be both physically attached to the drone and loaded into the remote identification system, if available. Remote identification will allow the drone operator to be identified even when the drone is in flight.
Regarding the registration requirement for UAS operators, there is still a grace period until April 30, 2021. Drone pilots who have not yet registered during this period or who have not yet been assigned the registration number must instead continue to affix their name and full address to the UAS. Online registration will then be mandatory for UAS operators from 01.05.2021. In addition, drones in the "Open Category" may generally be flown without a permit. The framework for the Open Category is defined as follows:
- Maximum flight altitude: 120 m above ground, - direct visual contact with the drone during the entire flight or activated follow-me mode, - minimum age of a (independently acting) pilot: 16 years - Maximum takeoff mass (MTOM) of the drone 25 kg, - no transport of dangerous goods - no dropping of objects
The open category is divided into three subcategories (A1, A2, A3), each of which has further additional restrictions. They are (roughly summarized) graded by weight and maximum speed of the drones: A1 - below 900 g maximum takeoff mass, including drones whose weight is below 250 g and maximum speed (horizontal) of max 19 m/s, the latter are marked with a "0". A2 - up to 4 kg, A3 - up to 25 kg. Depending on the class, it is allowed to approach people differently -- the heavier the drone, the more safety distance is required.
In addition to the Open category, there are the Special and Permit Required categories, such as when the drone is flown over 120m in altitude or out of sight. Drone operation in these two categories, unlike the Open Category, requires prior approval(s).
A new "drone operator&s license" is also being introduced, with two different types of documents for pilots of drones in the Open Category - the EU Certificate of Competence and the EU Remote Pilot Certificate. Only those who want to fly a drone that weighs less than 250g and flies slower than (horizontally) 19 m/s are still exempt from the license requirement. Transitionally, old certificates of knowledge are still valid (until 31.12.202).
This is our (incomplete!) overview -- the exact regulations and classifications can be found clearly, for example, in the FAQ of the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt.