Drone pilot, are you ready for the flying season? Learn the rules, register and take the exam
Spring is here and the air is buzzing – also with drones! It is time to prepare for the year's busiest flying season: study the rules, learn to fly safely, register yourself and take the required examination.
The new drone legislation that entered into force at the beginning of this year harmonised the rules on drones across the EU. For Finnish drone users, the new rules introduced an obligation to register as a drone operator. The new legislation also brought some changes to flying practices but the fundamentals of safe flying remain the same. We have gathered below key things to remember to ensure safety for all.
Register and take the examination
All drone operators, both amateur and professional drone pilots, must register themselves, learn the rules on flying unmanned aircraft and, in most cases, pass an examination. For recreational drone pilots, passing an online theoretical examination is usually enough.
“The number of registered drone operators has steadily increased, and we expect more and more registrations as the flying season kicks into high gear. At the moment, some 9,000 remote pilots have passed the examination, but we estimate the actual number of pilots to be much higher,” says Patrik Söderström, Head of Team for Unmanned Aviation at the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom.
The registration requirement does not apply to pilots who are flying drones that weigh less than 250 g and do not have a camera or are defined as toys. Registration costs EUR 30 for one year, EUR 75 for three years or EUR 100 for five years. The fees are used to cover the costs of maintaining the register required by the EU Regulation. Once registered, drone operators will receive an email with their registration number. It is recommended to label drones by marking the registration number on the exterior of the drone so that it is easily visible.
Registration and taking the theoretical examination is easy on Traficom’s droneinfo.fi website and the drone services on the fintraffic.fi website. The online service for registration has been developed in collaboration with Fintraffic Air Navigation Services (ANS).
“The registration of drone operators has gotten off to a great start. The objective of Fintraffic ANS is to create for pilots a service portal where we intend to offer air situation pictures, briefing services and an online shop ,” says Senior Vice President Pasi Nikama from Fintraffic.
Keep your drone in sight and respect people’s privacy
Never fly higher than 120 metres above the ground and always maintain a visual line of sight to your drone. Pilots must be very careful when flying near airports and above crowds. If necessary, report your flight to the air traffic service unit. Instructions on requesting permission to fly can be found on the Fintraffic website: Flying drones | Fintraffic (External link).
You must also respect the privacy of other people and their homes. Never fly your drone above other people’s homes in way that intrudes on their privacy and do not film or photograph areas protected by domiciliary peace.
Fly only in permitted areas
In parts of Finland, aviation is limited with prohibited and restricted areas. In these areas, you are not allowed to fly your drone without a separate permission. Permanent prohibited and restricted areas are laid down in the Government Decree on areas where aviation is restricted (External link).
Drone pilots also have to take into account the temporary prohibited and restricted areas that are established continuously. Temporary restrictions can be set for example to ensure safety during public events or military training activities. Official information on temporary airspace restrictions are published in the form of AIP Supplements on the Aeronautical Information Service’s website ais.fi (External link).
In addition to the official information, there is a commercial online map service where you can check the status of your intended flight route. The Aviamaps (External link) website gives almost real-time information on the Finnish airspace and helps you make decisions to ensure safe flying. The website shows details and possible restrictions for different areas.
Drone legislation introduced new common rules – why?
As flying drones has become more and more popular, the number of incidents caused by drones has also increased. It is essential to ensure the safety of pilots, other people and aircraft around them, the surrounding environment and the drone itself.
“The new Regulations establish uniform rules across the EU to ensure safe flying. Registration gives us an opportunity to supervise flight operations better than before because we know who is flying what. It also makes it easier to provide safety information to drone pilots,” says Söderström.
For more information on flying drones safely, please visit droneinfo.fi! (External link)
Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom: Patrik Söderström, Head of Team, tel. +358 29 534 6120, firstname.lastname@example.org
Fintraffic Air Navigation Services Ltd: Pasi Nikama, Senior Vice President, tel. +358 40 848 2904, email@example.com
Aviamaps Ltd: Juha Lindstedt, CEO, tel.+358 050 492 4565, firstname.lastname@example.org