Drones Switzerland - What you need to know about them

Flying drones in Switzerland is an unbroken trend. This way you can get spectacular photos of mountain lakes or a mountain range. As of 2021, there are new rules in Switzerland. We have compiled all the current regulations that you should know so that you know what to look out for.

If you hear an approaching buzz in the distance, these days it's pretty much a remote-controlled drone with a camera

Permits and rules to fly drones in Switzerland from 2021

Lawmakers have put some limits on the unrestrained use of drones, as it can be dangerous for air traffic, in addition to causing some noise pollution and privacy issues.

No permit required

  • For a total weight of the drone up to 30 kilograms.
  • Up to a flight altitude of 120 meters.
  • If you respect the privacy of others (is regulated in the Data Protection Ordinance under the item Video surveillance with drones by private persons).
  • If you always have direct visual contact with your drone. An exception is the so-called FPV mode (First Person View), where the pilot wears glasses that give him the feeling of sitting directly in the cockpit of the drone and an observer stands next to him, who has direct visual contact with the drone.
  • If you're not endangering people or animals.
  • If you are not flying over a closed nature reserve.

Permit required

  • From a total weight of the drone of 30 kilograms.
  • From a flight altitude of 120 meters.
  • If you want to take off within a radius of 5 kilometers around a civil or military airfield or heligport.
  • In the immediate vicinity of ongoing blue light operations.
  • If you want to fly your drone in Switzerland without direct visual contact, because this could endanger other flying objects. The exception is the FPV mode already described above.

The permit for flying drones is issued by the flight safety authority or airfield operator responsible in a region.

New drone laws in Switzerland from the year 2021

The innovations regarding drone flying in Switzerland concern:

  • The reduction of the maximum flight altitude from the previous 150 meters to 120 meters.
  • The introduction of a minimum age of 12 years for the sole use of a drone. Drone pilots younger than 12 must be accompanied by a supervisor who is at least 16 years old.
  • Also new is a lower weight limit of 250 grams, instead of the current 500 grams
  • Drones may no longer be flown over crowds, including drones under 250 grams flying weight.
  • Pilots of drones with a built-in camera or over 250g takeoff weight must also register with the German Federal Aviation Authority. Here they receive an eID (electronic pilot ID), which must be attached to the drone.

Although the new EU regulation also enshrines online training with testing for drone pilots, this is not yet planned for drone flying in Switzerland. However, if the Swiss government wants to adopt the EU regulations as before, a training regulation will become inevitable.

Flying drones is funFlying drones is fun
With the drone can be shot beautiful photosels)With the drone can be shot beautiful photosels)

Possible penalties and fines when flying drones

If you misuse drones, you can expect heavy fines. In addition, any owner of aircraft, be it hot air balloons, model airplanes or drones, can be held liable for any damage they may cause.

Even if someone causes damage with your drone without your knowledge, you can be partially prosecuted for it. Unless you can prove that you kept the drone safe. According to the Federal Law on Aviation, non-compliance with the above regulations can result in fines of up to CHF 20,000 (link to the law)

The actual amount of the fine depends on the severity of the offense and is decided on an individual basis. Lawyers are increasingly dealing with the annually increasing cases of violations of ordinances on drone flying in Switzerland

Examples of sanctions:

  • If you do not keep the minimum distance of 100 m to a crowd and/or fly your drone over a crowd in Switzerland, you have to expect a fine of about 300 CHF.
  • If you exceed the permitted flight altitude of 120 m with your drone, you may face a fine of 150 CHF.
  • If you let your drone fly within 5 km of an airport or heliport in Switzerland, you will face a fine of approximately 150 CHF.
  • If you fly without visual contact to your drone, you can be charged about 150 CHF.
  • If you do not have liability insurance for your drone in Switzerland, you will not be fined.

Swiss Activities Tips for Drone Flying in Switzerland

The Swiss civil air traffic control Skyguide allows you via Skymap to accurately retrieve the regulations for the particular area in which you want to launch

Under the link Mappe Luftkarte Drohne Skyguide you will find a map or aerial chart that allows you to select the exact region where you want to fly your drone in Switzerland.

Clicking on the marked areas will show you if you need a permit and if so, which one. Or whether air traffic by drones is prohibited at all in the respective area. In addition, you can also register your aircraft quickly and easily via Skyguide.

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