What is a drone, from a legal point of view?
The complete legislation was solidified in a Royal Decree.
A drone is an unmanned aircraft with a max. total weight of 150 kg, piloted from a ground control station. A drone is subject to aviation law in order to ensure the safety of the other aircrafts, people and goods on the ground. The Royal Decree wants to guarantee the use of remotely piloted aircrafts in the Belgian airspace as well as the privacy of the citizens. Up to 150 kg this falls under the authority of the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport – General Directorate of Civil Aviation. Starting 150 kg the European Agency for the Safety of Aviation is authorized.
In comparison: a model aircraft is a remotely piloted aircraft exclusively used for sports and recreational purposes.
A drone can also be catalogued as a governmental aircraft. This is an aircraft used for military operations, customs, police, search and rescue, fire control, coast guard or operations or analogue activities controlled by and for the responsibility of the State, performed in the general interest of by an organization demanded by the public government. The General Directorate of Civil Aviation is not authorized for these governmental aircrafts.
Am I allowed to fly with a drone without permission?
Yes, this is allowed. But, on the other it is also not allowed. Everything depends on the weight of the drone and where you want to fly with it. The most straightforward is indoor flying which has no legal restrictions. If you want to fly in open air, the legislation specifies 3 different categories: private or recreational use, use in class 2 and use in class 1. Professional or commercial flights are bound to class 1 or 2.
How can I follow a drone pilot course?
There are 2 possibilities: you can follow a course via the model aviation or you go to an official drone pilot course for a class 1 or class 2 license qualification.
In class 2 you have again 2 possibilities: from the age of 16 a certificate of remote pilot or from the age of 18 competence qualification RPAS.
For class 1 you must be 18 years old and succeed for the competence qualification.
What about the insurance for my drone and myself?
First of all check your family insurance on the recreational use of drones. Depending on the type of drone you are insured or not. In case the family polis of your insurance company does not include your flight, you will have to look for an insurance civil liability which covers the aviation activity and the use of remotely controlled aircrafts.
There are different insurance companies which cover the risks, but several offer only a limited coverage through the family insurance which is unsufficient for professional and commercial use. Some insurance companies are specialized in drones, but they are few.
How do I register my drone?
To register your drone, you must send a request to the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport – General Directorate of Civil Aviation. The issue of a proof of subscription does not imply the permission for your drone to fly in air traffic. The airworthiness of your aircraft must also be verified and certified before you are permitted to fly. Luckily a lot of units are certified already.