Drones pose a hazard to air traffic

Rules and regulations for unmanned aircraft systems in Germany

26.05.2015.- More and more unmanned aircraft systems, commonly known as drones, are being flown in German airspace. All of them, whether they are small model aircraft, unmanned aircraft taking photographs or multicopters, have to comply with air traffic control regulations. However, operators of such aircraft are often unaware of this. To ensure the continued safety of air traffic, DFS considers it vital to raise the awareness of these rules. Operators of drones should know that any infringement of these rules may result in criminal proceedings for hazardous interference with air traffic.

From 1 June 2015, new regulations will apply in the vicinity of the 16 international airports in Germany where so-called control zones, each with an individual shape and size, protect arriving and departing aircraft. Within 1.5 kilometres from the airport fence, it is prohibited to operate model aircraft or unmanned aircraft systems (drones). Outside this 1.5-kilometre area, all aircraft need to obtain an air traffic control clearance to enter the control zone. This also applies to small model aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems with the exception of model aircraft with a maximum weight of 5 kilograms operating up to a height of 30 metres and unmanned aircraft systems with a maximum weight of 25 kilograms operating up to a height of 50 metres above ground.

In addition, the following important basic rules apply to both aircraft types:

Flights may only be conducted in the operator's direct visual line of sight. The use of binoculars, on-board cameras, night vision goggles 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 avoided at all times. Open-air assemblies of persons, military objects, power plants and hospitals may not be overflown. Air traffic control must be informed without delay if a model aircraft or unmanned aircraft system goes out of control.

These basic rules also apply to flights in uncontrolled airspace.

More information about rules and regulations as well as the location and size of control zones can be found on the DFS website in the section "Air sports and leisure activities".

International airports in Germany:
Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover, Berlin Tegel, Berlin Schönefeld, Münster Osnabrück, Dresden, Erfurt, Leipzig, Düsseldorf, Cologne Bonn, Frankfurt, Saarbrücken, Stuttgart, Nürnberg, Munich


DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,881 employees as at 31 December 2014. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,000 air traffic controllers guide up to 10,000 flights in German airspace every day, and about three million movements every year. This makes Germany the country with the highest traffic volume in Europe. The company operates control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich as well as 16 control towers at international airports in Germany. In addition, DFS is represented at the EUROCONTROL Control Centre in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Additional areas of activity include consulting, provided by the Aeronautical Solutions Division, and aeronautical data, grouped in the Aeronautical Information Management Division.