German Regulations

In Germany, several laws and orders are in force concerning the use of unmanned model aircraft. The current versions of these statutes are published by the German Federal Aviation Administration (Luftfahrtbundesamt, 2009), and an application form for flight clearance may be downloaded from its homepage (search term Fluggenehmigung). § 16 of the German Air Traffic Order (LuftVO) regulates the permission for use of the German airspace. It is summarized in the following without claim to completeness and warranty of correctness, particularly regarding the fact that the legal framework changes occasionally owing to technical development and changing hazards.

§ 16 Airspace use requiring a permission (Erlaubnisbedürftige Nutzung des Luftraums)

(1) The following kinds of airspace use (Nutzung des Luftraums) require a permission:

1. The ascent of model aircraft (Aufstieg von Flugmodellen)

(a) with more than 5 kg overall mass,

(b) with rocket propulsion, provided that the rocket propelling-charge exceeds 20 g,

(c) with combustion engine (Verbrennungsmotor) in a distance of more than 1.5 km from residential areas,

(d) of all kinds within a distance of less than 1.5 km from the zones of airfields (Begrenzung von Flugplätzen); on airfields the operation of model aircraft additionally requires the accordance of the aviation authority or of the air traffic control (Luftaufsichtsstelle oder Flugleitung),

2. the flying of kites and parachute kites if they are tethered with a line longer than 100 m, [...]

4. the ascent of captive balloons (Fesselballone) if they are fastened with a rope of more than 30 m length,

5. the operation of remotely controlled and uncontrolled automatic missile (fern- oder ungesteuerten Flugkor-pern mit Eigenantrieb), [. ]

(2) The tether line of unmanned captive balloons (unbemannte Fesselballone) as well as kites has to be marked every 100 m with red and white flags at daytime and with red and white lights at night, in order to be visible for the pilots of other aircraft.

(3) The authority for the granting of permission according to Section 1 is the locally responsible authority of the federal state, provided that the representative according to § 31c of the Air Traffic Act (Luftverkehrsgesetz, LuftVG) is not responsible.

(4) The permission is granted if the intended uses cannot lead to a danger for the safety of air traffic

(Sicherheit des Luftverkehrs) or the public safety and order (öffentliche Sicherheit oder Ordnung). The permission may be provided with collateral clauses, and it may be granted to individuals or associations of individuals for particular cases or generally. The authorities determine according to their dutiful assessment (nach ihrem pflichtgemäßen Ermessen), which documents the application for the grant of permission needs to contain. In particular, an expertise concerning the suitability of the landscape and the airspace in which the aircraft operations are planned to take place may be required. (5) The grant of permission may be conditioned upon evidence of agreement of the property owner or another holder of rights of use. (End of citation of the law.)

For the SFAP user, the cited law indicates that the ascent of electrically driven model aircraft with an overall weight of less than 5 kg in a distance of more than 1.5 km to the next residential area and in a distance of more than 1.5 km to the next airfield is possible without any permission, although § 16 (1) 5 does leave some room for interpretation of this statement (see also Müller and Wohlecke, 2002). Kites and parachute kites are not allowed to ascend higher than 100 m and blimps not higher than 30 m without permission. According to the interpretation of the law by German authorities, these measures refer to the total length of the lines on the reel and not to the amount of uncoiled line during the flight only.

The permission has to be obtained from the responsible aviation authority, which differs between the federal states. As the authors have experienced, the grant of permission for scientific purposes is usually given. Particular security regulations are in force next to civil and military airfields; these may even apply for considerable distances. In the case of an SFAP survey 60 km north of Frankfurt International Airport, for example, the permission was granted with the constraint to inform the responsible aviation authority 24 h in advance of the ascent, providing information on the exact coordinates, time, and aircraft in written form, and calling the authority again immediately before the survey.

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