The use of drones in Spain: applicable regulations

Rules on the use of drones

The sector of aircrafts piloted by remote control, known as drones or RPAS, has undergone tremendous growth in recent months in Spain and is presented as one of the biggest emerging and revolutionary sectors from a technological point of view in Spain.

Currently, there exists in Spain a temporary regulation which regulates the operation or the handling of drones, indicating the suitable procedure to carry out these air type activities depending on the operating scenario and the weight of the aircraft. This is Law 18/2014 of 15 October 2014, approving urgent measures for growth, competitiveness and efficiency, which regulate the use of drones (RPAS) throughout Spain whose weight does not exceed 150kg.

At the same time, the State Aviation Safety Agency (SASA) plays a key role in the field of aircrafts piloted by remote control. This is the main agency responsible for monitoring compliance with the aforementioned Law 18/2014 and, in particular, with authorizing operations with this type of aircraft within the Spanish airspace.

On the other hand, for those drones which exceed 150kg, rules have been established at the European level, leaving EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) as the agency responsible for these aircrafts.

Requirements for licensing commercial operator drones

The main requirements to operate commercially with drones in Spain are schematically summarized below:

  • Be qualified as an operator by AESA
  • Be in possession of liability insurance
  • That each drone has a nameplate and that its use is not illegal
  • Be a drone pilot

Qualification as an operator by AESA

To be qualified by AESA, one must complete a series of procedures which are summarized below:

  • Request test flights, by prior communication and affidavit. As well as characterize each aircraft and flight profile and complete an aeronautical safety study. One must also provide the conditions and limitations for safe operation, and the accreditation of pilots.
  • Carry out test flights: For this, the stamp of AESA is needed in the prior communication and affidavit.
    It requires test flights for each aircraft type and activity, and may only be performed by the operator, ensuring that the operation is carried out safely.
  • Request for qualification as operator: Once the test flight is performed, the final authorization may be obtained, which will be valid indefinitely, provided that the conditions in the previous communication and affidavit are not changed. In addition, drones over 25 kg must be registered in the Aircraft Registry, have a certificate of airworthiness and prior authorization from EASA.

To be a pilot of drones

To be a pilot of drones requires:

  1. Having reached the age of majority
  2. Demonstrate that one has the technical and practical knowledge required to be a pilot
  • For an aircraft of more than 25kg, it is necessary to have a pilot’s license in force or theoretical knowledge of it, while for an aircraft of less than 25 kg, it is enough to have a pilot’s license in force- or the theoretical knowledge of it – or the basic certificate (VLOS) or advanced (BVLOS) issued by an approved training organization (ATO).
  • As for skills, it is required to have completed a course of practical training specific to each aircraft and control equipment (make and model). In addition, at the end of each course it is mandatory to attend an examining flight to get the certificate.
  1. One should also be in possession of a valid and adequate medical certificate.

Elisa Muñoz & José María Mesa

For further information on the regulations regarding the use of drones in Spain,

Please note that this article is not intended to provide legal advice.

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