Germany: The commercial use of unmanned aircraft in Germany

In Germany, the regulations for private and commercial use of drones can be found in Section 5a “Operation of unmanned aircraft” of the Air Transport Regulations, more precisely in Sections 21 a et seq. of the LuftVO (Luftverkehrs-Ordnung [Air Traffic Regulations]). Due to the priority of application of EU regulations, the LuftVO was adapted to EU law in the relevant areas from July 2021. In addition, the EU Drone Regulation 2019/947 applies in all other points.

In some areas, the EU Drone Regulation gives leeway to Member States. The Member States can issue their own regulations here. The Federal Government has made use of the authorisation in Art. 15 DVO (Drohnenverordnung Drone Regulation]), which is relevant for the commercial use of drones. Accordingly, the Member States are free to prohibit the operation of unmanned aviation systems in certain areas or to make them dependent on further time or technical requirements for reasons of safety and security, protection of privacy or the environment. German legislature has implemented this in §§ 21 h to 21 k of the LuftVO. § 21 h LuftVO specifies regulations for the operation of drones in certain geographical areas, such as residential areas or nature reserves or near airports. Regulations on intervals, usage times, etc. must be observed here. Furthermore, a large number of drones are already being used commercially in Germany. The trend for this is increasing (2019 to 2021 increase of approx. 138%).

Droniq GmbH and parent company, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, first implemented the idea of the U-Space 2021 in Germany. For this purpose, a U-Space living laboratory was set up in the port of Hamburg. The project was sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI, Bundesministerium für Verkehr und Digitale Infrastruktur). This perspective created the basis for the implementation of further U-spaces in Germany. The living laboratory tested in practice how drones and from this perspective even flight taxis can be safely and intelligently integrated into airspace, also in combination with manned aviation.

In early 2023, the European U-Space Regulation will be implemented under national law, and the first U-Spaces in Germany will be created in 2023. The living laboratory experience gained should form the basis for the national implementation of U-Space air spaces.

Autor: Dr. Christian Reichmann