You have a drone or you are planning to buy one and would like to learn about the current regulations for drones in Poland. This article is for you.
When reading the drone regulations, you can often find the abbreviations of BSP, VLOS, UAVO, operator or drone observer. You don't know what they mean, how do they differ? Feel free to read the basic definitions you need to know.
Unmanned aerial vehicle (BSP) - colloquially a drone - an aircraft that does not require a crew on board for the flight and cannot take passengers. Remotely piloted or autonomous flight. English UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or South Africa (remotely piloted aircraft);
Operator - person remotely piloting UAV;
Observer - a person designated by the operator who, through visual observation of the UAV with the unaided eye, assists the operator in determining the position in the airspace of the flying model and keeping a safe distance;
UAVO (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operator) - certificate of qualification of drone operators authorizing their use for commercial purposes;
VLOS - Operations within the visual field (Visual Line of Sight Operation) - operations in which the operator or at least one observer maintains visual contact with the UAV;
FPV - Operations with first person view (First Person View) - operations in which the operator controls the UAV without maintaining eye contact with it. It determines its location through an image transmitted in real time by devices installed on board;
BVLOS - Operations out of the visual range (Beyond Visual Line of Sight Operation) - operations in which the operator does not maintain direct visual contact with the UAV. This type of flight may only be performed by persons holding a qualification certificate;
Automatic flight (in BVLOS conditions) - operations in which the UAV automatically performs take-off, landing and flight along the programmed route. The operator has full remote supervision over the operation. This type of flight may only be performed by persons holding a qualification certificate;
Flying model - colloquially a drone used for recreational purposes - a term used in Polish regulations for UAVs with a take-off weight not exceeding 150 kg, used in VLOS operations, and UAVs with a take-off weight up to 2 kg, used in FPV operations, used for recreational or sports purposes;
Drone regulations - general rules for recreational flights
If you are interested in the detailed content of the laws, you will find links to them at the end of the article.
Drones are becoming more and more popular. However, keep in mind that these are not toys and that flying is associated with a lot of responsibility. Each operator has a legal obligation to know the applicable regulations for drones and apply them in practice. Did you know that a drone is treated as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in accordance with Polish law? When flying a drone, you are one of the airspace users. Each flight should be performed in accordance with the provisions of aviation law. When flying illegally, we run the risk of being fined or even imprisoned for up to 5 years. The drone operator is also responsible for any damage caused as a result of careless flight.
If you are flying a drone for recreational purposes. you can fly:
- without qualifications and without aero-medical examinations,
- without civil liability insurance (although we recommend buying it),
- VLOS in sight,
- in FPV if the drone does not exceed 2 kg.
If you are flying with a camera view (FPV), you have to meet additional requirements. You can't fly:
- higher than 50 m above ground level,
- at a horizontal distance of more than 200 m from each other,
- less than 100 m from buildings or from outdoor gatherings.
When flying, you are responsible for taking particular care in the interest of air traffic safety and for maintaining public peace and order. Drones must give way to manned aircraft. Additionally, before each take-off, you should make sure that the drone is technically sound.
There is an additional requirement for drone operators in the so-called "Anti-Crisis Shield 2.0". Article 15zzzzl was introduced, which forces the reporting of the UAV flight to the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency. This means that each drone flight should be preceded by a check-in in the DroneRadar application.
Flight rules depending on the weight of the drone
If the weight of the drone does not exceed 600 g, you must keep a safe distance from buildings, towns, housing estates or from gatherings of people in the open air as well as people, vehicles, buildings (this distance is not specified in detail by regulations).
If your drone's weight is greater than 600 g, you must:
- keep a horizontal distance of not less than 100 m from the buildings of towns, settlements or from gatherings of people in the open air,
- keep a horizontal distance of not less than 30 m from people, vehicles or buildings (you should not fly directly over people).
Drone regulations - zones where you are not allowed to fly
Regardless of the above provisions, there are places in the Polish airspace where, for safety reasons, you cannot fly, or where special permission is required. If you want to easily check where you can fly and where not, you can use the DroneRadar application. After entering the weight of the drone and the maximum flight altitude, you can get information whether the flight in a given place is allowed.
You cannot fly drones:
- over airports,
- military trains and training grounds,
- closed areas (areas reserved for the purposes of state defense and security, including railway areas),
- people and gatherings of people in the open air.
You cannot fly drones without obtaining approvals from managers, from specialized services or after meeting additional requirements:
- near airports, in the so-called control zones of the CTR airport and the airport traffic zone ATR,
- over national parks,
- along the eastern border of Poland in the border area.
You should fly respecting the privacy of others. Fly over other people, roads, pipelines, power lines and other devices, the destruction or damage of which may pose a threat to people, health or the environment, should be minimized and carried out with special care.
To legally fly a drone you must:
- Report a flight - do a chek-in in the DroneRadar application (From April 18 until the law is revoked due to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus).
- Keep a safe distance and flight altitude, depending on the place where you are and the weight of your drone model.
- Do not fly in prohibited places (check in the DroneRadar application).
- Take due care.
Current national regulations for drones
Detailed conditions and requirements for the use of drones for recreational or sports purposes are described in:
- Appendix 6 Announcement of the Minister of Infrastructure of 3 July 2019 on the publication of the uniform text of the regulation of the Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy on the exclusion of the application of certain provisions of the Act - Aviation Law to certain types of aircraft and determining the conditions and requirements for the use of these ships
- Art. 15zzzzl. Act of April 16, 2020 on specific support instruments in connection with the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus
The regulations are constantly changing and corrected, so I recommend that you follow them on the website of the Internet Legal Acts System https://isap.sejm.gov.pl/ and following the pages of the Civil Aviation Authority https://www.ulc.gov.pl/ and the State Air Navigation Services Agency https://www.pansa.pl/u-space/, where you will find a lot of important information related to drones.