Regulation for the Use of Drones – What Are the Scandinavians Doing?
Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAV), which are better known as drones, have a wide range of applications, ranging from 3D mapping and surveying construction sites to inspecting buildings and areas that are difficult to reach.
However, flying a drone isn’t easy and presents many risks. Not only can a drone unexpectedly crash into a person or property, but it can be used for invading privacy, hacking, theft or disrupting airport traffic. While providing opportunity for insurers, the growing use of drones also presents a challenge. The key to tapping into the opportunity is understanding local legislation. Unlike the U.S., EU countries have fairly progressive regulation of drones.
In Scandinavia, national regulators have opted to make rules based on use (private or commercial) and drone size.
Let’s first take a look at the rules for private use:
- In Sweden, the use of small drones (below 7 kilograms) requires a permit and liability insurance; they can only be flown at least 50 meters from houses and roads.
- Norway doesn’t regulate small drones for private use.
- Whereas Denmark doesn’t require a permit for the private use of a small drone, it limits their use so much that most pilots would probably opt to get a permit to make the most of their toys. The use of drones is only allowed in the countryside - around 150 meters from houses and roads.
In all countries, small UAVs for private use must be operated within visual line of sight (a maximum of 300m).
Things are a bit different when it comes to legislation for small drones (below 7 kilograms) for commercial use, which is by far the largest category of drones. Applications go beyond just taking photos.
- Sweden, Norway and Denmark all require a permit and insurance cover, but the conditions for obtaining the permission are different in every country.
- Extensive flight planning and establishment of a security area in which the flight will take place is required in every country. As with drones for private use, operators must maintain a visual line of sight (with a maximum of 300 meters).
- Denmark probably has the strictest rules because at least one person in the organization requesting the permit is required to be responsible for drone operations (security procedures, training and evaluation of pilots, maintenance of drones, etc.).
- In both Norway and Denmark, the permit requestor needs to write a handbook describing the operations as well as the security and flight procedures.
For large drones (between 7 kilograms and 150 kilograms), Norway has the least restrictive legislation - requiring just a few additional conditions for people operating them than smaller ones. Meanwhile, Denmark prohibits flying drones that are heavier than 25 kilograms.1
Sweden requires at least three people to be responsible for operating a large drone (in addition to other technical requirements).2 All three countries require operators to maintain a visual line of sight with the drone.
Drones flown beyond the pilot’s vision are typically high-end drones, using GPS and cameras when the pilot cannot see them. Such drones are only allowed in Norway and Sweden, with the latter subjecting operators to strict technical requirements for the drones.
Today’s progressive rules for operating UAVs in Scandinavia and those of other countries, as in the Netherlands where professional use is banned, are likely to evolve into harmonized EU regulation.3 Also, change in technology and safety improvements are likely to have a significant effect on how strict the regulation needs to be. Current legislation remains very much inspired by rules for manned aviation.
At present, reinsurers and insurers need to be aware that drone owners will not always live up to the prerequisites set by the regulation. We have to consider this when underwriting and drafting wordings for this type of risk. Please get in touch with us if you wish to discuss drones in your region.
- Denmark is currently examining the possibility of raising this to 150 kilograms.
- A flight manager, a technical manager and a pilot all have to be approved by Sweden’s transport agency (Transportstyrelsen)
- https://easa.europa.eu/easa-and-you/civil-drones-rpas’s transport agency (Transportstyrelsen)