Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the Republic of Malta
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Malta
The Maltese agency responsible for drone safety, CAD, has provided several internet-accessible details on flying drones for fun or work. The highlights are enumerated below. For more details, go to the link above.
Flying and operating drones in Malta are subject to European Union Regulation 2019/947. The Malta Civil Aviation Directorate (CAD) supervises and implements the Regulation in Malta. 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 Malta?
Here are the most important rules to know for flying a drone in Malta:
Drone operators must register all drones in Malta. 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 Specific category. (The CAD may grant exemptions to operators of specific 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.
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.
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.
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
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 Malta, 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 Malta 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 Malta and present it when asked by the authorities
How to register as a drone pilot or operator in Malta?
According to European Regulation (EU) 2019/947, registration is mandatory for UAS operators (not for UAS themselves).
- The only cases where registration of the UAS operator is not required are:
– If the drone is labeled as a toy i.e. (toy directive 2009/48/EC)
– If the drone weighs less than 250g and is not equipped with a recording device such as a camera or microphone
- Registration is done on tmcad.idronect.com, to obtain a UAS Operator Registration Number together with a UAS Operator Certificate.
- The UAS Operator Registration Number or corresponding QR-code should be printed and affixed to the drones owned by the Drone Operator.
- It should be noted that Law Enforcement Officers may conduct checks and ask the Drone Operator to demonstrate that they hold a valid UAS Operator Registration Number and that it is affixed to the drone, and any breaches will incur a penalty.
- Registration is renewable annually against a fee of €25.
How to get Authorization for a drone flight in Malta?
- Flight requests should be submitted online at tmcad.idronect.com, specifying the flight parameters including date, time, location, drone, etc. This system allows you to see the weather forecast, flight zones that are restricted, integrate NOTAMs, etc.
- Flights that are low risk and comply with certain pre-defined parameters are authorized automatically, so the Authorisation Form can be downloaded and/or printed immediately.
- Such flights do not exceed the maximum altitude of 60m, do not infringe any no-fly zones indicated on the map, and are not carried out before half an hour before sunrise and after half an hour after sunset.
- Flights that are not authorized automatically may require a risk assessment to be uploaded together with the flight submission.
- It should also be noted that Law Enforcement Officers may also conduct checks to see that drone flights are being conducted as per the parameters in the Authorisation Form, and any breaches of the parameters may also incur a penalty.
- All drone operators operating their drones in Malta need to have valid third-party insurance, irrespective of the weight of the drone, and/or the type of operation (recreational or commercial).
- This is due to the type of airspace in Malta, all of it being controlled.
- Any valid insurance from any insurance provider is acceptable.
Permits are issued on the following conditions:
- Drone operators not holding valid third-party insurance are liable for any damages incurred as a result of their operations.
- All personnel directly involved in the operations are competent to perform their tasks and the UAS will be operated only by remote pilots with the appropriate levels of competency.
- Drone operators and pilots should be aware that the collection of images of identifiable individuals, even inadvertently, when using cameras mounted on small drones, may be subject to the Data Protection Act.
- Drone operators must be aware of their responsibilities regarding operations from private land and any requirements to obtain the appropriate permission before operating from a particular site. In particular, they must ensure that they observe the relevant trespass laws and do not unwittingly commit a trespass whilst conducting a flight.
- Manned Aviation shall have priority over any drone operation.
- Rules of the Air shall also apply with other drones in the vicinity as potentially more than one drone operator may be operating in the same area at the same time.
- A submitted self-declaration or a permit of operation issued by this Authority with the pre-set written conditions are without prejudice to all other applicable laws and regulations and compliance.
- Permit to fly cannot be construed as a permit to film individuals or property without consent or to transport items by drone.
- Drone operators must be reachable on the mobile number provided throughout the drone operation and must ensure that their mobile phone is charged.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Malta
See general rules above.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Malta
See general rules above.
Useful published information on flying drones in Malta
Here is a sample of what you might expect if you follow the drone laws and fly in Malta…
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.
Traveling with a Drone?
Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone
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