Since the new drone specific German air law entered into force on 7 April 2017, the drone community is awaiting the passing of the new common principles to be agreed between the Federal and the German States’ governments, to support the uniform implementation of the law in all German States.

While the process is still ongoing, the State of Bremen now took the initiative and published its own general rules for implementation of the new Federal air law specific to drones.

The rules have been in force since the day of publication. They are only applicable to professional drone users and are aiming at simplifying the highly complex system of general permission requirements and specific prohibitions with possibility of a waiver applicable in all German States since April this year.

The new general rules are further limited to drones with a maximum take-off weight up to 10 kg and only with electric propulsion systems.

The new weight class makes the need for a general permit 5 kg and more, which will likely reduce many professional users need for lengthy permission procedures.

Other highlights of the rules particularly worth mentioning is the possibility to fly above gatherings of people provided one has their permission and explained the possible risks and insurance requirements to the relevant stakeholders and authorities. Furthermore, the introduction of the so called 1:1 rule, which allows professional drones to fly at the same distance and altitude above industrial plants without further permissions (i.e. at 100 m distance, an altitude of 100 m is allowed, whereas one is even allowed to fly as close as 1 m, however then only at 1 m altitude. While the latter case may not be so appealing, the intermediate steps of e.g. 50 m altitude at 50 m distance may still have some merits for the professional user). A similar rule applies for federal waterways and even for federal motorways and railroads, whereas for the latter two, a maximum distance and altitude ratio starting at 25 up to 100 is to be followed.

Requirements to particularly watch out for is the need to carry a copy of the new general rules when flying (in addition to the required insurance certificate). Pilots also have to inform the local police any time before flying under the new general rules. Starting and landing areas also have to be clearly marked as such. Automatic flying along waypoints is only allowed within visual line of sight with no augmentations and pilots have to ensure to always fly within the technical limits specified in the drone’s instruction manual and shall perform pre-flight checks.

Also, for benefitting from the new rules pilots have to document time, date, venue, drone type and specificities as well as the pilot’s name for every flight. Documentation must be saved in electronic format for at least three years, so that is may be retrieved as required by the authorities.

Any damage to persons or objects when flying under the new rules will also have to be immediately reported the authorities.  

Only pilots of the age 16 years and above may benefit from these new rules.

As the general rule may be withdrawn or subject to amendment at any time, pilots also must regularly check for the latest version of the rules before flying.

This news item can only provide an overview of the general rules now in force in Bremen for flying drones for professional purposes. For all details, please have a look at the attached official journal(at the time only available in German).