Model aircraft/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)

Depending on the operating site, you are required to obtain an air traffic control clearance from the competent air traffic control unit to launch model aircraft and/or unmanned aircraft systems (also known as drones) as prescribed in Section 21 of the German Aviation Regulation (LuftVO).

You need to obtain a clearance issued in writing or by telephone for operations in the direct vicinity (control zone) of

  • international airports (such as Frankfurt)
  • regional airports (such as Dortmund)
  • military aerodromes (such as Nordholz)

and for flights at higher altitudes outside of control zones.

A clearance shall be considered issued in the 16 control zones of DFS if the following conditions are met (as specified in the German-language publication 1-1197-17):

  • The minimum distance from the airport boundary is: 1.5 km.
  • The flight is only conducted within the operator's direct visual line of sight. (The use of binoculars, on-board cameras, night vision equipment or similar technical aids is not considered to be direct visual line of sight.)
  • At all times during the flight, the operator or a second person who is in contact with the operator must be able to observe the airspace, especially in regard to other traffic.
  • Manned aircraft operations shall be granted right-of-way at all times, preferably by flying lower or by landing.
  • Maximum weight of model aircraft: 5 kg
  • Maximum weight of unmanned aircraft systems (drones): 25 kg
  • Maximum height for model aircraft: 50 m
  • Maximum height for unmanned aircraft systems (drones): 50 m

The following international airports in Germany are controlled by DFS: Berlin Schönefeld, Berlin Tegel, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Dresden, Erfurt, Frankfurt Main, Hamburg, Hannover, Köln Bonn, Leipzig Halle, München, Münster Osnabrück, Nürnberg, Saarbrücken and Stuttgart.

You can apply for a clearance from the local control tower for flights of model aircraft or drones which take place less than 1.5km from the airport fence and above 50m. This clearance will normally require you to comply with further conditions.

Note: The aeronautical authorities responsible may have additional rules and regulations that must also be complied with.

Explanation of terms used:

Model aircraft are operated for sports and recreational purposes.

Unmanned aircraft systems are operated for other, particularly commercial purposes (e.g. aerial photography to be published or sold).

Further information:

  • In accordance with the Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) of Implementing Regulation (EU) 923/2012, flight operations are only permitted in visual meteorological conditions.
  • DFS does not convey traffic information to the operator about other air traffic.
  • Flight operations at night are only permitted if the aircraft is equipped with lighting as specified in SERA-DVO 923/2012 Point 3215 (Lights to be displayed by aircraft).
  • Additional provisions for unmanned aircraft systems: The provisions in the German-language publications Nfl 1-1163-17 and Nfl I-76/08 shall be complied with.
  • Further rules and regulations regarding licensing, permission of landowners to operate model aircraft/ unmanned aircraft systems on their property, liability insurance and data protection rules remain unaffected by the issuance of this general clearance and must be complied with.