Even though I no longer maintain my travel blog, I always enjoy going on holiday with my camera. I collect snapshots of the most beautiful places on our planet for my private photo album or Instagram account. I’ve already experimented with taking photos and videos on my iPhone, Canon and GoPro, but there’s one thing I haven’t yet dared to try – a drone.
Drone flying strictly regulated all over the world
I admire the sensational drone photographs taken by my fellow bloggers from the air. They always provide interesting perspectives on landscapes and tourist attractions that we would otherwise never get to see.
For a while now, I’ve been wondering whether I should get to know this technology a little better – but then I realized something. Whenever I visit a wonderful place and think: “Wow, this would be the perfect place to take some drone footage,” I always see a sign prohibiting drone flying just a few meters away. Of course, these notices are always presented without further explanation. Why is this?
Better be informed before you travel
As I just mentioned, these signs don’t usually provide any precise details. When I ask the drone experts at TÜV Rheinland about this, they tell me that restrictions could be in place for one of two reasons:
- The location or its surroundings are part of a conservation area. Generally speaking, drones are not permitted to fly here.
- The hotspot is too crowded. Flying is not permitted over gatherings of people or places where the privacy of other individuals could be violated.
However, these are by no means all the factors I would have to bear in mind as a drone pilot. Around the world there are different regulations that you must be aware of before taking a trip. Anyone who does not follow these instructions should expect sanctions ranging from confiscation of the drone all the way to substantial fines or prison sentences.
The German Drone Regulation: avoiding hazards, protecting privacy
In 2017, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure introduced new legislation aimed at providing clear rules on drone use in Germany. Here are the key guidelines and tips from our experts:
- Drones must be flown a minimum distance of 1.5 km away from airports.
- The pilot requires special drone insurance. Liability insurance is not sufficient.
- Drones with a take-off weight of more than 250 grams must be marked with the address of the owner in a legible and fireproof manner.
- Drones weighing more than two kilograms may only be flown by pilots aged 16 or over. A drone licence and a special permit (for drones weighing over 5kg) are also required for these models.
- Drones may not be flown more than 100 meters above the ground; in control zones and for drones with a take-off weight of less than 250 grams, the maximum altitude is only 50 meters.
- Drones must avoid other aircraft at all times.
- You must keep your drone in sight at all times while flying it.
- You should only fly your drone in good weather conditions.
- Privacy must be respected at all times.
- You must have the owner’s permission to fly over private property.
- Flights over crowds (beaches, cities, gatherings, etc.) are not permitted.
- Flights near politically sensitive buildings are not permitted – for example, this includes prisons, police stations and military installations, courts, nuclear power plants, accident sites, disaster zones, federal highways and waterways, rail infrastructure, hospitals and industrial plants.
- Drones must remain at a safe distance of at least 100 metres from power generation and distribution facilities.
- Drones must not be flown over conservation areas.
- Drones may only be flown at night with a special permit.
Expert tips: drone travel photography
Phew, that’s a lot of rules to bear in mind when taking travel photos with a drone. It’s definitely one reason why I haven’t got involved with it yet. Nevertheless, one person who regularly uses a drone to take photos on her travels is Jana Zieseniß from the Sonne & Wolken travel blog. She recently sat down for an interview with our expert Nicole Krzemien.
And if you want to see how my colleagues check buildings that are difficult to reach with the help of drones, take a look at this drone video.