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Drone pilots dodging licenses

Since October 2017, pilots of drones with a take-off weight of two kilograms or more require a flying license. Yet, only some 3,000 drone owners have to date obtained their license.

05 Feb. 2018 Dirk Bongardt
Source: Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur
Source: Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur

Many owners don’t appear to be taking the mandatory license requirement for heavy drones in force since fall particularly seriously: As a survey conducted by monthly business magazine ‘Capital’ at the 30 test centers certified by the German Federal Aviation Office (LBA) found, only some 3,000 drone pilots have taken their test there. There are, however, no official figures available pertaining to drones sold in Germany that require a license: The legislator has not yet implemented compulsory registration. However, experts estimate that there will be approximately 40,000 drones requiring a license in Germany by the end of the year, with some 1.2 million drones expected to be in use in the country by then.

More stringent international regulations were one of the reasons why action camera manufacturer GoPro abandoned the drone market after just one year. In Germany, the new drone regulation has, though, also removed a number of obstacles associated with the commercial use of unmanned aircraft. For example, devices with a take-off weight of 5 kg or less generally no longer require permission to fly. Although previously generally not permitted, drones may now also be flown beyond the operator’s visual line of sight, with approval from the relevant federal state aviation authority.