drone flying in vienna guide

Guide to flying a drone in Vienna. Here’s what you need to know. Image: unsplash

Flying a drone in Vienna – what you need to know

If you want to fly a drone in Vienna, you have to consider a few points. So that nothing goes wrong with the planning and you are legally on the safe side, we show you what you need to consider.

When flying drones, there are always rules and laws to follow. Some places also offer their own peculiarities that you should know about. One such place is Vienna, the capital of Austria. We’ll show you what you need to consider in advance when planning your drone flight, so you don’t get any nasty surprises.

As always, please note that this article is not legal advice. Information and circumstances can change at any time. If in doubt, always contact the relevant authorities. However, we keep this article up to date to the best of our knowledge.

Summarized

Do I need a special permit for a drone flight in Vienna?

For those who have little time to read, here is the abridged version of the most important points. If you are already familiar with a particular point, you can jump straight to the next one. However, we recommend that you read the entire article.

General regulations when flying drones

Stellenmarkt

First of all, the basic regulations and laws. The uniform EU Drone Regulation (comprehensive guide – german) has been in force in the EU member states since the beginning of 2021. This sets out the requirements for drone flights and drone operators. This includes points such as the subdivision into flight categories, drone classes, mandatory registration of drone operators, mandatory marking of drones and mandatory insurance.

It is therefore imperative to familiarize yourself with the regulations set out there, as further regulations are linked to them.

If you find the article on the EU Drone Regulation linked above too long, you can also read our summary on the EU Drone Regulation (german) and shimmy through the corresponding sub-topics.

Only when you are familiar with the above-mentioned basics should you familiarize yourself with the local restrictions. The EU regulation leaves this to its member states, which can define GEO zones on the basis of this. These are zones in which drone flights are permitted or prohibited in no-fly zones or only possible with restrictions.

Local restrictions

The basics are known and sitting? You know which category your flight falls into? Very well. Then let’s look at the local restrictions. Depending on where exactly you want to fly your drone in Vienna, restrictions may apply. This is the case, for example, in the vicinity of certain properties, buildings, roads or facilities.

To list these in detail here is beyond the scope. Fortunately, there are suitable applications for this purpose. The ÖAMTC website, for example, provides an interactive map that gives you important information about local restrictions for an address.

This is the easiest way to find out whether and if so, under which conditions and with whose permission drones can be flown in Vienna. The ÖAMTC also offers a corresponding app for mobile devices (to the ÖAMTC Drone Info App).

öamtc-drone-map-drone-flying-in-vienna
View of the desktop version of the ÖAMTC application with a marker in Vienna and the associated information about the drone flight. Image: oeamtc.at

If you now perform the first search via the application, you will also quickly come across the special feature of Vienna. This is what the next section is about.

Special feature of Vienna: restricted flight area

As you can see on the map, Vienna is in a large red area. Red areas on maps are rarely a good sign for drone pilots. In this case, the area is the Vienna control zone, and it is what is known as a restricted flight area. There are a handful of these control zones and restricted flight areas throughout Austria. Drone flights in these areas are always allowed only with a permit from an appropriate body. In the case of Vienna, this permission must come from Austro Control.

However, there is one piece of good news for some drone pilots since August 2022.

Please note that as of 12.08.2022, flights with unmanned aerial vehicles weighing less than 250 g and flying at altitudes below 30 m within restricted areas will no longer require a permit. 

Austro Control

So if you fall into this exception, you can scroll further to the “What to consider on site?” section. But where and how do you get a permit if you want to fly a drone over 250g or 30m? What costs will I incur?

Flight only with permission from Austro Control

Necessary documents for approval

In order to obtain a permit from Austro Control (website), a number of formalities must be completed.

Here you will first find the official form for the authorization of UAS operation in restricted areas. In addition to the application form itself, the following documents are expected:

  • Detailed project description
  • Scale plan (incl. drawn flight and safety areas)
  • Confirmation of registration as operator of unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Copy of insurance confirmation or declaration of intent (coverage amount of 750,000 SDR)
  • Copy of official photo identification of the applicant as well as the pilot(s)
  • Proof of completion of the online course for category A1/A3 of the pilot(s) (if applicable)
  • Proof of theoretical examination for category A2 of the pilot(s) (if applicable)

But don’t worry, even if it seems a bit much at first, the documents are usually quickly compiled and the application is quickly sent to the address stored in the form. The application can also be sent by e-mail. Printouts are thus not necessary.

Tips on the above points

A doctoral thesis is not expected in the detailed project description. Keep it short. Mention the most important key data and try to describe the project in simple words but still concrete:

  • Where to fly?
  • Why do you want to fly?
  • When (date or time period)?
  • How many launches are expected to be scheduled that day?
  • Drone
  • Planned flight altitude and speed

The following picture shows an example of a scale plan. Note that the barrier radius around the flight area must be the planned flight altitude, but at least 50m.

austro control example scale plan
Your scale plan for your application should look something like this. Image: Austro Control

Costs of the Austro Control permit

However, what might be a bit annoying are the costs of the approval. A list of the exact costs is available during the application process. However, you have to be prepared for costs in the range of 500€ – 700€. The billing is currently per necessary time for an application. It is therefore desirable to submit all documents completely and correctly at the first submission to avoid possible queries. Of course, this also increases the processing time of the application.

How long will it take for me to receive approval?

The time it takes for the application to be processed varies, as it is currently still a manual process. As a rule, the processing time is around 3 weeks.

However, in our case (end of June 2022), it took just about 1 week for approval.

Completion

You will receive a response from Austro Control regarding your application quite quickly. You will then receive all further information directly by mail.

If your application is approved, you will receive a preliminary decision by e-mail, which you must agree to again. Check the information there again, because this is your last chance before the final decision is issued and the invoice is written.

Evidence recording authorization Austro Control flight in Vienna
Page 1 of the preliminary decision (“Result of the taking of evidence”) for our drone flight in Vienna. Image: Dimitri Wolf

Only then the dispatch takes place by mail. Only the notice that comes by mail is valid as proof of the approved permit! Therefore, allow a few more days for the postal service.

You will then receive the invoice a few days or sometimes weeks later by e-mail. However, according to the notification, payment must be made within 2 weeks after receipt. Please take the information about the payment directly from the notification, because this information can change under certain circumstances.

What do you have to consider on site?

On site you have to carry all the usual documents (What documents do you have to carry as a drone pilot? – german). In addition, you must also pack the Austro Control certificate if you need one (see above).

Depending on where exactly you are flying in Vienna, you must also inform one or more responsible offices by telephone directly before takeoff. You can find out which ones via the ÖAMTC map linked above or directly from your Austro Control notice.

austro control notice drone flying vienna competent bodies
The Austro Control notice tells you directly which local authorities you have to notify by phone before the drone flight.

Summary

If you want to fly a drone in Vienna, you have to familiarize yourself with a few points at the beginning. But everything is not so bad. How, where and under what conditions drone may be flown, is clearly regulated. With the help of the following article, you will have learned which regulations and laws you have to observe, how you can get a corresponding permit from Austro Control and what you have to do on site. So you are on the safe side and nothing stands in the way of a rule-compliant flight in Vienna.

Kategorien: Guides

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