Drone Laws in Austria

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Republic of Austria

Austro Control (AC)

European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Austria

The Austrian agency responsible for drone safety, Austro Control, has provided a number of internet-accessible details on flying for fun or for work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details go to the link above.

Flying and operating drones in Austria are subject to European Union Regulation 2019/947. Austro Control supervises and implements the Regulation in Austria. This reform aims to create a truly harmonized drone market in Europe with the highest level of safety. In practice, it means that once a drone Οperator has received authorization from its state of registry, they will be allowed to circulate in the European Union freely. According to the level of risk involved, this new legal framework will introduce three categories of drone operations: Open, Specific and Certified

Drone operations are to be conducted according to the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 (as amended).

Are drones allowed in Austria?

According to Austro Control, drones are allowed in Austria, subject to AC and EASA regulations. Read on for details.

Here are the pre-existing rules to know for flying a drone in Austria:

  • Drone pilots must be 16 years of age or older.
  • Liability insurance is mandatory for all drone operators.
  • No flying over crowds (e.g. events, sports events, concerts, etc.) without special permission.
  • No flying in “the immediate vicinity of airports” without special permission.
  • Only Austro Control may grant an aviation permit to a pilot.
  • Even after the operating license has been granted, specific aviation-related authorizations in accordance with the 2014 Air Traffic Rules may be required for certain areas.

Since 2014, very strict rules for the operation of unmanned flight systems apply in Austria. Before you take your drone into the country, you should determine which category it belongs to. The weight and the desired altitude are important.

The drone categories

In Austria, drones are divided into:

  • toy
  • flight model
  • unmanned aircraft class 1
  • unmanned aircraft class 2

Most relevant to most drone flyers are the “toy” and “Unmanned Class 1 Aircraft” categories.

Permit Requirements in Austria

Austria classifies drones by joules of kinetic energy, which is a measurement that includes both weight and speed.

Here are the permit requirements for flying a drone in Austria:

  • A permit is not required to fly a toy drone. A toy drone in Austria is defined as “up to 79 joules kinetic energy, which corresponds to a weight of approximately .55 lbs (250 grams), at an operating height of 98 feet (30 meters).”
  • A permit from Austro Control is required “if 79 joules are exceeded or if the drone is flown above 98 feet (30 meters).”
  • A permit from Austro Control is required to fly a drone for commercial purposes.
  • A permit from Austro Control is required to take photos or record video with your drone regardless of operating mass and even if the photos/footage are for private use.

The application

One thing in advance: the approval is expensive. At the moment it is around 330 euros for a year.

The application includes:

  • The completed application form (in German)
  • Confirmation of drone insurance (minimum coverage 750,000 special drawing rights = about 1 million euros)
  • A copy of the photo IDs of the applicant and the pilot(s) (minimum age 16 years)

These documents should be sent to ulfz@austrocontrol.at.

According to the experience of several applicants, the approval will be issued within a few working days.

Penalties

If you lack a license yet the drone you are flying is in a category that demands one, Austro Control or any other citizen can legally file a complaint. This is an administrative offense and carries a fine of 22,000 euros.

Here are the most important EASA rules to know for flying a drone in Austria moving forward:

Drone operators must register all drones in Austria. Following registration, you must adhere to the following rules.

  • Drones may fly up to 50 meters (170 feet) above ground or sea level in the Open category and up to 120 meters (400 feet) in the Special category. (AC may grant exemptions to operators of special category drones.) 
  • Direct visual contact with the drone is required, and the operating distance should not exceed 500 meters. 
  • Avoid flying too close to residential areas or populated areas. 
  • Maintain a safety buffer zone of one kilometer around residential areas. 
  • Unless the owner/person consents, a safety distance of 500 meters from isolated buildings, people, vehicles, animals, and structures is required. 
  • Avoid flying near airports and heliports. Stay a minimum of eight (8) kilometers away from airports and three (3) kilometers from heliports for safety. 
  • At no time is it permissible to fly a drone at night. 
  • There shall be no flying over, within, or near military installations, public utility installations, archaeological sites, or public or private facilities.

Open Category

Given the low level of risk, neither prior authorization by the competent authority nor a declaration by the drone operator is required. The drone’s total takeoff mass must be less than 25kg, and it must be operated within a visual line of sight at a maximum altitude of 120m.

Special Category

Considering the moderate level of risk involved, flights in this category require authorization before the operation. The permission is given considering the mitigation measures identified in an operational risk assessment, except in specific standard scenarios where an operator declaration is sufficient.

Certified Category

Given the inherent dangers, certification of the drone and a licensed remote pilot are required. If your drone is capable of carrying people, you fall under the Certified category!

EASA Summary of Drone Flight Operation Requirements

EASA Summary Table of Drone Flight Operation Requirements
EASA Summary Table of Drone Flight Operation Requirements

Note for foreign operators

Operator Registration (Non-EU Residents)

  • If you are coming from a non-EU country and this is the first time you will fly your drone in an EU country, you MUST register as an Operator.
  • Upon registration, you will receive a unique Operator Registration number which you MUST attach to your drone. If you have several drones, the same number must be attached to all of them.
  • You are not allowed to fly in NO FLY ZONES, and you must keep aways a minimum of 8km distance away from airports/heliports.
  • If you already conducted operations in another EU country before going to Austria, you must not register again. You always register to the first non-EU country you have conducted flights

Remote Pilot Certificate (Non-EU Residents)

  • If you want to fly your drone in Austria and live in a non-EU country, you must hold a Remote Pilot Certificate issued from an EU country.
  • You can get the A1/A3 Certificate by registering with the online Remote Pilot School.
  • The online training and exam are required for those who want to fly a drone in the ‘Open’ category in subcategories A1/A3.
  • The pass mark is 75%, and you have 3 tries in total to pass.
  • Once you pass your exam, you will receive your remote pilot certificate. Its validity will be 5 years.
  • You must have your Remote Pilot Certificate in your possession whenever you plan to perform drone operations in Austria and present it when asked by the authorities.

How to register as a drone pilot or operator in Austria?

According to European Regulation (EU) 2019/947, registration is mandatory for UAS operators (not for UAS themselves).

The UAS Pilot, also known as the Remote Pilot (RP), is the person physically behind the UAS flight controls. They are fully responsible for the safety of the flight throughout operations.

The UAS Operator is the person or company who oversees operations and gives flight instructions. This person or legal entity bears all responsibility for the operations of the drone (s) on their behalf. Very often, in the OPEN category and as an individual, the Pilot and the Operator are the same person.

Who should register?

As part of the OPEN category, registration is compulsory for operators:

  • UAS that have a mass of 250 g or more; 
  • UAS that have a mass of less than 250 g but: 
    • are able to operate at speeds greater than 90km / h 
    • are equipped with a camera or a microphone, if these UAS are NOT toys * 

* A UAS is a toy when a manufacturer intends it for children under the age of 14 and meets the minimum safety criteria required to be so named. Compliance with these standards naturally limits the capabilities of the UAS (size, weight, non-dangerous spare parts, no powerful motor, etc.): see Directive 2009/48 / EC of 18 June 2009 on the safety of toys

Under the SPECIFIC category, registration is compulsory for all operators.

Natural persons can only register in the country where they reside.

Legal persons must register in the country where their principal place of business is located.

Registration can only be done in one Member State at a time.

How do you register in Austria for drone operations?

The operator registration procedure begins at the online Austro Control registration link

This UAS operator registration number is valid for one year and must therefore be renewed periodically following the same procedure. The operator therefore always uses the same number unless the latter is permanently deregistered from the register.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Austria

The Austrian laws are very strict.

You’re not allowed to film, take photos for leisure or commercial use without an appropriate authorization delivered by Austro Control. Live broadcast is also forbidden.

For drones under 250g

You will not need a permit or a license to fly your drone for recreational purposes if it weighs less than 250 g and you keep your flight altitude below 30 m.

For drones weighing between 250 g & 150 kg flying in class 1 sub-category (within sight).

Within the permitted zones, you will need to follow a few rules according to your flight category (1, 2, 3 & 4).  To make things easier check the table below, to sum up your flight conditions:

Austria Drone Conditions Table

Austria Drone Conditions Table

In every case, you will need

  • to be at least 16 years old.
  • you will need to register your drone with local authorities.
  • hold an insurance (coverage around 1 Million €).
  • in case a second pilot has the ability to control the drone, he/she will need to declare a suitability to do such in writing as well & attach his/her drone license copy.

For flights categorized as A:

  • you can only used reliable accessories on your drone when flying

Documents to provide upon application:

  • your insurance confirmation
  • a description of your drone (attach a 3 sided view photo) & the installed accessories
  • a noise measurement report (if other than electric engine).

For flights categorized as B:

  • you can only used reliable accessories on your drone when flying
  • you will need an airworthiness certificate & operation safety analysis of your flight
  •  there is a engine noise maximum tolerance

Documents to provide upon application

  • your insurance confirmation.
  • a description of your drone (attach a 3 sided view photo) & the installed accessories.
  • a noise measurement report.
  • an operational safety analysis of your drone flight.

For flights categorized as C & D:

  • you will need an airworthiness certificate & operation safety analysis of your flight.
  • you can only used reliable accessories on your drone when flying
  • there is a engine noise maximum tolerance
  • you will need to create a safety pre-flight checklist to complete before each flight.
  • an aero medical certificate not older than 5 years (Austrian driving license fitness assessment works).
  • an  Aerobatic certificate (you’re exempt if you hold an Austrian skydiver, hanger or paragliding license), here’s a sample example (only available in German).

Documents to provide upon application:

  • your insurance confirmation.
  • a description of your drone (attach a 3 sided view photo) & the installed accessories.
  • a noise measurement report.
  • an operational safety analysis of your drone flight.
  • your pilot’s license (& your co-pilot’s if relevant).
  • your recognised medical certificate.

For drones over 150 kg or any drone flying in class 2 sub-category (out of sight).

You will need approval from EASA, (EC) 216/2008. The regulations from EASA are also effective for class 2.


Notes for Commercial Drone Services operations in Austria

The Austrian laws are very strict.

You’re not allowed to film, take photos for leisure or commercial use without an appropriate authorization delivered by Austro Control. Live broadcast is also forbidden.

For drones under 250g

You will not need a permit or a license to fly your drone for recreational purposes if it weighs less than 250 g and you keep your flight altitude below 30 m.

For drones weighing between 250 g & 150 kg flying in class 1 sub-category (within sight).

Within the permitted zones, you will need to follow a few rules according to your flight category (1, 2, 3 & 4).  To make things easier check the table below, to sum up your flight conditions:

Austria Drone Conditions Table

Austria Drone Conditions Table

In every case, you will need

  • to be at least 16 years old.
  • you will need to register your drone with local authorities.
  • hold an insurance (coverage around 1 Million €).
  • in case a second pilot has the ability to control the drone, he/she will need to declare a suitability to do such in writing as well & attach his/her drone license copy.

For flights categorized as A:

  • you can only used reliable accessories on your drone when flying

Documents to provide upon application:

  • your insurance confirmation
  • a description of your drone (attach a 3 sided view photo) & the installed accessories
  • a noise measurement report (if other than electric engine).

For flights categorized as B:

  • you can only used reliable accessories on your drone when flying
  • you will need an airworthiness certificate & operation safety analysis of your flight
  •  there is a engine noise maximum tolerance

Documents to provide upon application

  • your insurance confirmation.
  • a description of your drone (attach a 3 sided view photo) & the installed accessories.
  • a noise measurement report.
  • an operational safety analysis of your drone flight.

For flights categorized as C & D:

  • you will need an airworthiness certificate & operation safety analysis of your flight.
  • you can only used reliable accessories on your drone when flying
  • there is a engine noise maximum tolerance
  • you will need to create a safety pre-flight checklist to complete before each flight.
  • an aero medical certificate not older than 5 years (Austrian driving license fitness assessment works).
  • an  Aerobatic certificate (you’re exempt if you hold an Austrian skydiver, hanger or paragliding license), here’s a sample example (only available in German).

Documents to provide upon application:

  • your insurance confirmation.
  • a description of your drone (attach a 3 sided view photo) & the installed accessories.
  • a noise measurement report.
  • an operational safety analysis of your drone flight.
  • your pilot’s license (& your co-pilot’s if relevant).
  • your recognised medical certificate.

For drones over 150 kg or any drone flying in class 2 sub-category (out of sight).

You will need approval from EASA, (EC) 216/2008. The regulations from EASA are also effective for class 2.


Useful published information on flying drones in Austria

Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Austria…

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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