FLYING A DRONE IN ANDALUCIA
Drones are an increasingly popular means of monitoring and capturing landscapes for photographic and surveillance purposes throughout Andalucia - spectacular scenery such as beaches, cityscapes, mountains, and rolling countryside filmed from 100 metres up in the air creates stunning bird's-eye visual images.
These remote-controlled aircraft are also used for more practical aims - checking and monitoring for engineering or agricultural purposes. In addition, many hobbyists simply enjoying flying them as a pastime. But, as with any aircraft, their use is regulated in Andalucia for safety purposes.
The regulations surrounding flying drones in Spain are fundamentally covered by the AESA (State Agency for Aerial Security) - this is their web page in Spanish. The official word used in Spain for a drone is the English acronym RPAS (remotely-piloted aircraft system, or in Spanish sistema aérea tripulado de forma remota).
A permit is only required for commercial drone flying, but not for hobbyist flying. In aviation terms, commercial photography and/or video operations constitute commercial flying.
Requirements of all drone flying
- The maximum flying altitude is 120m, and the drone must always remain in visual line of sight (VLOS). It is not advisable not to fly a drone during low-visibility weather conditions, such as rain and fog, since you must be able to see the drone at all times.
Drones cannot be flown at night unless they weigh less than 2kg (ie toy drones) in which case at a maximum altitude of 50m. If more than 2kg, special certification is required.
You must be 18 years old or under direct adult supervision to fly a drone.
- Liability insurance is only required for commercial use. However, since you will be liable for any damage caused to third parties, insurance is recommended.
Generally, the maximum weight of a drone without special certifications is 25kg
- Drones cannot be flown within 8km of an airport, airfield or where other low-altitude flight activities take place, such as paragliding, parachuting drop zones, heliports, etc.
- Drones must be flown at a distance of at least 150m from built-up areas, or 50m from people (excluding the pilot and assistants), and they must not be flown near crowds of people. Additionally, military or restricted areas and controlled airspace must be avoided.
- Flying your drone in national parks requires a permit. Restrictions in the natural parks of Andalucia and other protected natural monuments and spaces vary. Check with the park management and/or the Junta's Consejería de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Desarrollo Sostenible (Department of Agriculture, Livestock, Fishing and Sustainable Development).
- Don't forget that drone photography must be conducted within Spanish laws of data protection. The law protecting the rights of honour, personal privacy and one's own image is stricter than most. The publication of images of people or private space requires their authorisation.
Professional and amateur pilots must ensure that both their drone and remote control are clearly identified with the owner's name and contact details.
You can find useful information here
Leaflets published by AESA (in Spanish) about flying drones give a good overview of the regulations
Requirements of commercial drone flying
A certificate is required for commercial drone operations. A commercial drone pilot's license requires 60 hours' training and costs 500€ - 2000€ The certificate demonstrates attendance of theory classes, flight training hours and passing a test.
Insurance is also required for any commercial drone operation.
These pilots can fly over built-up areas and groups of people, and also at night, with the correct authorization. They can also fly closer to airports and in restricted/controlled airspace, with a permit. But they must always respect personal privacy of people and property.
The website of the AESA gives full details.
This is a drone map showing the different areas.
There are a number of drone schools based around Andalucia, in Cordoba, Jaen, Jerez, Malaga and Seville.