Flights other than recreational or sports flights with visual line of sight (VLOS)
Flights other than recreational or sports flight performed in VLOS and FPV operations
If you are flying a drone for purposes other than recreation or sport (e.g. you run a business using the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or you use it as part of your job), you have rules that you must follow as a UAV operator. This article discusses the rules of flight in a general way. Details can be found in the regulations to which the link can be found at the end of the article. Each operator has a legal obligation to familiarize with the applicable regulations and apply them in practice.
General conditions and rules of flights
First, you should have a “certificate of qualification of unmanned aerial vehicle operator (UAVO)” used for purposes other than recreation or sport with a rating to perform VLOS operations (it also entitles to limited FPV flights). This is a document issued by the President of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). You will receive it after completing a special training course and passing the necessary exams (for more information, refer to the "Certificates of qualification/exams" tab). If you are under 18 you will need the consent of your legal guardians to obtain a certificate of qualification. You will also fly under the supervision of an adult. One of the conditions is also having appropriate third party liability insurance.
If the UAV you are using is heavier than 5 kg, you also need to obtain the appropriate aero-medical examinations (for more information, refer to the “Aero-medical certificate" tab).
First of all, remember that when you are flying, you are responsible for exercising extreme caution due to air traffic safety and peace and public order. Remember to fly only with the equipment that is technically efficient. It is you as the operator who is responsible for the safe and lawful use of an unmanned aircraft.
Rules of flight
VLOS and FPV flights should adhere to the following rules.
a) in VLOS operations:
• maintain a safe distance from aircraft, buildings, gatherings of persons in the open air as well as from persons, vehicles and constructions which are not under your control in each phase of flight. The safe distance is not determined by the rules in meters. As an operator you decide what distance you need so that the equipment you fly does not hurt anyone;
• you or at least one observer should keep eye contact (with the unaided eye) with UAV in order to determine its location in the airspace and ensure a safe distance from other aircraft, obstacles, people or animals. In VLOS operations you may temporarily lose eye contact with UAV when checking flight parameters transmitted by equipment being a UAV ground equipment;
b) in FPV operations:
• UAV with a maximum take-off weight of 2 kg;
• up to a height of not more than 50 m above the ground level;
• at a horizontal distance of not more than 200 m from the operator;
• at a horizontal distance of not less than 100 m from the buildings of towns, cities, settlements or gatherings of people in the open air;
c) in VLOS and FPV operations:
• providing full flight control, in particular by remote control using radio waves;
• taking into account the meteorological conditions, structure and classification of airspace as well as information on air traffic limitations;
• in CTR: under conditions specified by the air traffic service provider;
• in ATZ: with the clearance of the ATZ operator and under conditions specified by the operator;
• in Danger Area, MCTR or MATZ: only as cleared and needed by the area/zone operator and under conditions specified by the operator;
• in Restricted Area covering the airspace located directly over the area of the national park you can fly with the clearance of the operator of the given national park and under conditions defined by the operator;
• in EP R40 Słupsk: only the aircraft referred to in Article VII para. 3 of the Implementing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Government of the United States of America to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Government of the United States of America concerning the deployment of ballistic missile defense system in the territory of the Republic of Poland regarding use of land areas and airspace surrounding the ballistic missile defense system base, signed in Warsaw on 27 April 2015 (Journal of Laws of 2016, item 234), upon approval referred to in this provision;
• in Prohibited Area: only as cleared and needed by the area operator and under conditions specified by the operator;
• in ADIZ: after notifying your location and time of flight to air traffic service (ATS) unit responsible for the airspace in which the flight is to be performed, or to AMC Polska (Airspace Management Cell of the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency);
• in case of flights within building structures: as cleared by the facility operator and in accordance with agreed safety rules;
• flights performed over:
o closed areas,
o nuclear facilities,
o areas, facilities and devices referred to in Article 5 para. 2 point 1 letter a and b, point 2 letter a and b and point 3 letter a and b of the Act of 22 August 1997 on the protection of people and property (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 2142),
o military units and firing ranges,
can be performed only as cleared and needed by the area/facility/device operator.
• flights over fuel pipelines, power lines and telecommunications lines, water dams and locks and other devices located in open area, the destruction or damage of which may endanger human life or health, the environment or cause serious material damage, is carried out with extreme caution;
• operations in CTR, ATZ, ADIZ and Prohibited areas may be performed by UAVs with a mass not exceeding 600 g in VLOS conditions without issuing clearances by the operator under conditions specified above, when flying at a distance of more than 1 km from the airport boundary or 500 m from the site protected by the Prohibited area and up to 30 m or up to the highest obstacle, including trees or building structures, within a radius of up to 100 m from the operator;
• operations in CTR and ATZ may be performed by UAVs with a mass not exceeding 25 kg in VLOS conditions without issuing clearances by the operator under conditions specified above when flying at a distance of more than 6 km from the airport boundary and up to 100 m above the level area.
UAV operation rules
In addition to the requirements concerning flight rules and operators' ratings, regulations also specify obligations of entities operating UAVs.
a) the entity operating a UAV is obliged to:
• label all equipment with a nameplate containing the name of the entity owning the unmanned aircraft;
• include preventive recommendations of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), if issued, in the operations manual;
b) UAVs used for flights earlier than 30 minutes before sunrise and later than 30 minutes after sunset must be fitted with a warning light mounted in a manner that provides an omnidirectional light distribution, visible from above and below;
c) UAV must be fitted with a "failsafe" system programmed in a manner consistent with the CAA preventive recommendations, if issued;
d) the operator performing the flight is required to wear a warning vest;
e) an entity providing aerial services using unmanned aircraft must develop an Operational Manual which:
• defines a safe way to provide aerial services and includes in particular:
o data of the entity providing services,
o list of operated UAVs,
o personnel data indicating their ratings,
o process of risk analysis of air operations in relation to operated UAVs,
o list of control activities carried out before take-off and after landing,
o procedures and principles of performing air operations,
o emergency procedures;
• is subject of review if requested by the President of the Civil Aviation Authority;
• is supplemented and amended in the manner necessary to keep it up to date;
• takes into account preventive recommendations of the President of the Civil Aviation Office issued on the basis of Article 21 para 2 point 15 letter c of the Aviation Law Act.