Flight restrictions of drones in Spain

In Spain, the flight restriction of drones under the current regulation, stet that drones can be used exclusively for the realization of the following aerial works:

  • Research and development activities
  • Air, pesticides and other treatments involving spreading substances in the soil or the atmosphere, including product launch activities for firefighting
  • Aerial surveys
  • Observation and aerial surveillance activities including filming and monitoring of forest fires
  • Aerial advertising, radio and TV
  • Emergency operations, search and rescue
  • Other special works not included in the above list

Likewise, there are certain flight restrictions of drones that anyone interested in flying a drone must take into consideration:

  • It is prohibited to fly drones in urban areas and crowds of people, which include beaches, concerts, parks, demonstrations, processions, etc.
  • You cannot fly drones at night
  • It is forbidden to fly drones near airports, airfields and other controlled airspace and endanger others
  • You must fly the drone within the visual range of the pilot, at a distance of no more than 500m and at a height no more than 400 feet above the ground (i.e. a maximum of 120 meters high)

Fines for the breach of these restrictions may amount to €225,000.

Non-commercial and recreational use of drones

Should the use of drones be reserved for non-commercial purposes, the aircraft will be considered an “Aero model” and will not receive the legal treatment of a drone.

We would then face an aircraft model that performs aero model activities, which would be controlled by the Royal Spanish Aeronautical Federation (AESA) and corresponding regional regulations and local application.

The use of a drone for recreational use or as a mere hobby does not need to be authorized by the AESA. In any case, this does not mean that it is not subject to certain mandatory minimum safety standards such as:

  • Before using a drone, it must always be visible and must not exceed 120 meters high
  • While it is not necessary to be a pilot, you should be able to fly with some confidence
  • The same restrictions applicable to commercial flying drones are applicable to recreational drones:
    • You cannot fly in urban areas or crowds of people
    • You cannot fly at night
    • It is forbidden to fly drones near airports or airfields as well as flying drones in areas where other flights are operating at a low altitude and endangering others.

In short, remotely piloted aircrafts, called drones or RPAS, are a sector in full expansion given the vast technological and business possibilities of use in multiple fields of the economy. Hence, the importance of the sector is regulated correctly and flexibly, ensuring maximum security while facilitating proper and productive development of this sector in Spain.

Nonetheless, there are many who advocate for a new and more comprehensive legislation, which is able to adapt the flight restrictions of drones to the new times and replace the temporary regulations currently in force that have begun to manifest as insufficient for a sector of this nature and dimension.

Elisa Muñoz & José María Mesa

This article is not considered as legal advice

José María Mesa

With both a Business Administration degree and a Law degree, José María Mesa specializes in company law, civil-commercial contracts and mergers and acquisitions. For any further enquiries please Contact us