Drones and Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems are fast becoming the standard solution for a large range of tasks traditionally performed by helicopters. The versatility of the different aircraft available, their ease of use and low operating costs have ensured a rapid and continued expansion of drones in many fields of industry and private use.
Professional drone operators are in high demand for performing tasks such as aerial filming and photography, advertising, survey and inspection flights, topography, agricultural applications, surveillance, fire-fighting and even search & rescue functions to name a few.
In response to the rapid growth both of availability and uses of drones and RPAs, it has been deemed necessary to regulate the industry in order to ensure adequate safety standards for aircraft and operators as well as the general public and private property. Today it is a legal requirement to obtain an official drone operator license for all uses of drone that are not considered strictly private non-commercial operations.
Who needs a Drone Operator License?
If you operate your drone for personal uses only such as photography or aerial filming with NO commercial application, while you are still under the obligation to adhere to the regulations concerning the use of drones and RPAs, you would not need to obtain an official license. You do however, have to be able to fly your drone safely and be aware of the regulations governing their use. Inadequate or dangerous private use of a drone may make you liable to pay a fine of up to 225.000 €!
If you are going to provide your services commercially as a drone operator, you will be required to be in possession of an official Drone Operator License approved by the AESA and issued by a certified flight-school or an Approved Training Organization (ATO).
For drones up to 25kg of Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW), flying within the visual range of the operator, a Basic Drone Operator License is required.
For flying outside of the visual range of the operator, you will need to obtain an Advanced Drone Operator License.
World Aviation Helicopter Flight Academy provides basic and advanced drone operator courses as well as type-ratings for various models through our training centers in Málaga – Costa del Sol and Madrid – Cuatro Vientos. More information.
What tasks can be performed with a drone
At present, the use of drones is approved for the following:
- Aerial filming and photography (with limitations)
- Lifting and materials delivery
- Aerial spraying and application of agricultural treatments, on land and atmospheric.
- Research, survey and investigation flights
- Aerial advertising, radio & TV emissions
- Emergency operations, search & rescue
- Other specific operations not included in this list.
Apart from being in possession of a Drone Operators License, in order to carry out tasks such as aerial filming or photography with any aircraft, unmanned or not, you must obtain specific authorization from the AESA for this type of activity in accordance with the Orden de Presidencia del Gobierno March 14th 1957. Additionally, you must be in possession of valid liability insurance for aerial vehicles.
Limitations to the use of drones in Spain
A drone may be operated outdoors with the following limitations:
- Day-time operation only and within visual meteorological flying conditions.
- Within visual range of the operator and no further than 500 m from the operator.
- Maximum operating altitude is 400ft or 120m above ground level.
- Operation is permitted in unrestricted air-space only at a minimum distance of 5 nautical miles from airports or airfields.
- Flying above urban areas must take place away from buildings, agglomerations of people, sports events etc. Flying above beaches is also prohibited.
Flying drones indoors, inside sports pavilions or other spaces completely enclosed by a roof structure, permission is granted at the discretion of the owner or the leaseholder of the premises as these spaces are not within the jurisdiction of the Civil Aviation Safety Authorities.