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Can you fly a drone in the city? What the regulations say?

Can you fly a drone in the city? What the regulations say?

Photos of urban architecture and infrastructure taken with a drone can be very impressive. However, it must be remembered that flights in built-up areas are subject to additional requirements. Is flying a drone in a city allowed in Poland? The regulations are quite complicated, but they don't prohibit it outright - here's everything you need to know about it.

Flying in built-up areas. Can you fly a drone in the city?

dron city

As a rule, regulations allow drone flying in the city while complying with the requirements of the relevant flight category. Therefore, the same rules apply as in other locations. Current regulations, which have been gradually introduced in recent years throughout the European Union, designate several categories of flights. In most cases, drone operators will be interested in the open category, which takes into account the following requirements:

  • the weight of the drone must not exceed 25 kg;
  • permissible flight altitude is 120 meters, counting from the ground (the highest point directly below the drone);
  • the operator is obliged to keep a safe distance from third parties;
  • the drone must remain in the pilot's line of sight throughout the flight.

The open category is further divided into four subcategories, which set additional rules depending on the weight of the drone. It's worth familiarizing yourself with them - detailed guidelines may affect your ability to fly in the city.

  1. Subcategory A1 (drones with a takeoff weight of up to 250 g) - This category includes most drones used for recreational flying, including the most popular models DJI, such as the Mini series drones. Due to the light weight of the devices a1 flight rules are not very restrictive. The main restriction is the prohibition of flights over gatherings of people - however, flights over individual bystanders are allowed. Importantly, if the drone is equipped with a camera, you will need to register the device to fly even in this category.
  2. Subcategory A1 (drones weighing 250-900 g) - although the subcategory number remains unchanged, flights are already subject to other restrictions. There is still a ban on flying over gatherings, while flying over individual bystanders is allowed, but the operator should ensure that it lasts as short as possible.
  3. Subcategory A2 (starting weight up to 4 kg) - the minimum horizontal distance from other people is 30 m. If the drone is equipped with the flight speed limit function, the limit is 5 m. In addition, you will need a2 certificate, which, unlike A1/A3, requires not just an online test, but also to undergo practical exercises and complete the theoretical exam in a certified unit.
  4. Subcategory A3 (drones with a takeoff weight of 4-25 kg) - Within this subcategory, the minimum distance from buildings and bystanders is already 150 meters. Given such a high limit, this means that flying a drone in the city with a takeoff weight of more than 4 kg is almost impossible in practice.

What to watch out for when flying a drone in the city?

drone w mieście

Registering a drone, obtaining a certificate and following the guidelines of a specific subcategory is not enough yet. In addition to the above, it is worth noting some important issues concerning flights in the city. First of all note that flying is not allowed in some places, even if other requirements are met. This is due to restrictions on air traffic issues that apply at military facilities or airports, as well as at certain other points - such as during rescue operations, accidents or special events. Some zones, however, will require authorization (for example, sports stadiums and their immediate vicinity) prior to flying. In many places, we may additionally encounter warnings as well as temporary flight bans, depending on other air traffic in the area. You can read more about geographic zones here.

Restrictions in cities are most common near airports - The zone of increased flight requirements extends quite a distance from the runways. This means that in some cases it can also overlap with the city, as is the case, for example, in Krakow or Warsaw, where the airport is located relatively close to the.

DroneTower - convenient zone verification and easy flight registration

The rules regarding different categories of drones and the restrictions on specific zones in cities can be dizzying - especially given that the zones themselves can change. With the help of dedicated apps that allow you to quickly and efficiently check the rules of flight. As of mid-April 2024, the following is available in Poland droneTower application, which also allows reporting of flights. Its functionality is expected to replace the previously popular DroneRadar application. DroneTower is an official tool of the Polish Air Navigation Agency, so you can count on up-to-date data, matched to Polish regulations.

What regulations say about flying a drone in the city?

latanie dronem w mieście

Can you fly a drone in the city? It is worth noting that regulations in force in Poland do not directly address this issue. However, the different categories place certain restrictions on the distance from buildings and bystanders. As a result, flying a drone in the city is impossible in many places and may require notification in others. However, there are still numerous locations available where you can freely move a drone and take stunning aerial shots.

We also remind you that flying a drone over 250g or with a camera requires operator registration and completion of training. The tests are available in online form through the Civil Aviation Authority's website. The ULC portal also offers a wealth of additional information related to flight authorizations - a good place to delve into current regulations on drone use. You should also take advantage of our article dedicated to this topic.

Bartholomew Rasztar
Editor specializing in e-commerce for 3 years. Master of Science in Management - Marketing and Social Media. Passionate about sports, extreme experiences and challenges, which he shares on his Instagram. Inspired by the use of technology to show the world in fascinating and interesting ways.
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