France

Contributor: Deborah Barbizet

General

1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?

Yes, UAS are considered as aircraft in France.

2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?

Basic Laws

In addition to the Transport and the Civil Aviation Codes, two principal legal texts specifically regulate UAS under the French law (Regulations):

« Arrêté du 17 décembre 2015 relatif à l’utilisation de l’espace aérien par les aéronefs qui circulent sans personne à bord » (Use of Airspace Regulation) (as amended)

« Arrêté du 17 décembre 2015 relatif à la conception des aéronefs civils qui circulent sans personne à bord, aux conditions de leur emploi et aux capacités requises des personnes qui les utilisent » (Aircraft and User Regulation) (as amended)

The Regulations regulate all unmanned or remotely piloted aircraft used on French territory, with the exception, notably, of aircraft weighing more than 150 kg and certain aircraft used for state purposes (i.e. military aircraft and state UAS carrying out public service missions (such as customs, police, rescue services)).

A further law, No 2016-1428 of 24th October 2016 (relative to the reinforcement of safety in the use of Drones) has provided a further legislative context to the use of UAS and amended the Transport Code, the Consumer Code and the Telecommunications Code UAS use and activity in a closed and covered area is (subject to certain exceptions) not concerned by the Legal Texts.

The European Regulation No 923/2012

Regulatory Body:

Direction de l’Aviation Civile (DGAC)

Direction de la Sécurité de l’Aviation Civile (DSAC)

The Regulations entitle the authorities to carry out verifications and supervision necessary to ensure that UAS and operators comply with the Regulations.

During any use of a UAS, a copy of all authorizations and any other documents are provided without delay upon request of the authorities.

The authorities can prohibit or limit the use of a UAS, a type of UAS, or the activity of an operator in case of security concerns or non-compliance with the Regulations.

This is carried out through operational, airworthiness recommendations/orders, suspension or withdrawal of authorizations, certificates and receipts. Operations can only recommence if corrective measures ensuring the safety of persons are applied upon the conditions imposed.

3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?

Yes. The Regulations do not apply to UAS deployed for certain public services (for example military UAS).

4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?

Yes. The Regulations make the distinction between (i) UAS used for professional purposes (whether commercial or not), and (ii) UAS used for leisure, and (iii) UAS for experimental purposes.

The rules which apply will depend on use and not the UAS model.

Definitions used:

  • “Pilot” is the person controlling the flight of the UAS, manually (commanded live at all times by the pilot) or automatically (under supervision and capable of intervention at times for security purposes).  Autonomous flights are automatic flights without pilot intervention on trajectory.

Article L6214 of the Transport Code provides that the pilot is the person who manually controls the evolutions of the UAS or in the case of an automatic flight, the person who is in a position to intervene at any moment on its trajectory, or in the case of an autonomous flight, the person who determines directly the trajectory or the points of passage of the aircraft.

  • “Inhabited zone” A UAS flies in an inhabited zone when it is at a horizontal distance less than 50 metres from an agglomeration (identified as such on aeronautical maps) or at a horizontal distance less than 150 metres from a group of persons – several tens of persons (or 50 metres for Use 4 flights) (concerts, sporting events, beaches, touristic sites, etc.).
  • “Captive” = an aircraft linked by any physical means:
  • to the ground or a fixed structure;
  • to a mobile or operator, provided the mobile or operator may not be raised or dragged by the traction of the aircraft.
  • “Weight” = total weight in flight, with batteries and equipment (but excluding the link in case of captive UAS).
  • “With sight-without sight” A with sight flight – evolutions of flight are at a distance from the pilot such that he retains a direct view of the UAS (without assistance – e.g. binoculars) and with a clear view on the aerial environment enabling the detection of approaching aircraft and the avoidance of collisions.

Any use falling outside the categories or not fulfilling the criteria set forth in the Aircraft and User Regulation will require special individual authorisation on a case by case basis.  Any such authorisation will only be granted to the extent the security of persons (ground and in other aircraft) can be ensured and in compliance with any additional technical requirements imposed by the authorisation.

Leisure and Experimental

UAS used for leisure, competition purposes are referred to as an “aéromodèle” – model aircraft.

Competitions are considered as recreational use. Certain training or commercial demonstrations may qualify as a leisure use.

Image taking will be considered as recreational provided there is no financial profit or professional use of the images.

There are two categories of model aircraft for the purpose of the Regulations:

  • Category A
    • UAS ≤ 25kg, non-motorized or with one type of propulsion and subject to total power limitations;
    • Captive UAS≤ 150kg.
  • Category B – all other UAS not falling within Category A.

Model aircraft are required, in both categories, to be remotely piloted or captive. Flights on automatic preregistered plans are authorised provided they are carried out under the surveillance of the pilot who has the means to take manual control at all times (static flight, landing) and such control is sufficient to ensure safety, urgently.

Leisure uses of model aircraft are limited to:

  • Flights with sight by a pilot; or
  • Flights without sight by pilot, provided a second person has his own command or can access the command to ensure security. For UAS weighing 2kg or less, which flies at a maximum horizontal distance of 200 metres from pilot at a maximum height of 50 metres, there must be a second person present with sight, responsible for flight safety by informing the pilot of potential dangers (but is not required to have access to commands), or
  • Flights of less than 8 minutes without pilot of aircraft weighing less than 1kg, which once launched, flies autonomously following atmospheric movements.

The consultation by the pilot of a video return on screen is not an FPV situation provided the pilot maintains sufficient view of the UAS and its environment.

When the model aircraft flight is on automatic, the pilot must be in a position at all times to take manual control. For models equal to or less than 2kg at a maximum horizontal distance of 200m from the pilot at a maximum height of 50m, the pilot’s control can be limited to urgent commands.

Models must not be used when there is a risk for persons or objects on the ground and should minimize risk by maintaining a minimum-security distance therefrom.

The pilot may not operate from a moving vehicle.

Category A models are dispensed with airworthiness documents and authorized to fly without flight aptitude and conditions as to pilot and operator other than those stated above (subject however to the new rules which will apply – see Response 8).

Category B models must hold a flight authorization certifying airworthiness and the capacities of the operator/pilot.

Professional

The operations in French airspace envisaged by the Regulations other than leisure, competition use, are divided in 4 Use categories. This is regardless of their commercial nature but in principle applies to professional use of a UAS and experimentations.

UAS can only be used as set forth below:

  1. Use outside inhabited zone, no flight over third parties, with sight at a maximum horizontal distance of 200 metres from the pilot. No specific weight maximum.
  2. Use outside inhabited zone, no third parties on ground throughout evolution zone, not fulfilling Use 1 criteria, at a maximum horizontal distance of 1 kilometre from the pilot. (Maximum weight for non-captive UAS: ≤ 2kg for flights above 50m).
  3. Use in an inhabited zone, no flight over third parties, with sight at a maximum horizontal distance of 100 metres from the pilot. Captive UAS and non-captive UAS with maximum weight: ≤ 8kg.
  4. Use outside inhabited zone and not fulfilling Use 1 or Use 2 criteria. Maximum weight: ≤ 2kg and activity: mapping, photographs, observations or aerial surveillance.  Outside inhabited zone means for Use 4, at a horizontal distance of least 50m from any crowd of persons.

With respect to Uses 1 and 3:

  • no flight over third parties at less than a minimum distance set by the regulations.
  • in cases of without sight flights, the total evolution zone of the UAS must be free of third parties throughout the flight.
  • flights may be made with First Person Vision – i.e. the pilot may not have a direct view on the UAS provided another person has the UAS in direct sight at all times. Such other person is considered as the pilot for purposes of the regulations and has responsibility for flight safety. He must have his own command system or be in a position to access the command system to maintain flight safely.

The consultation by the pilot of a video return on screen is not a FPV situation provided the pilot maintains sufficient view of the UAS and its environment.

For UAS greater than 150kg the conditions which apply to the conception of the UAS, their conditions of use, and the aptitude of operators and pilots are fixed on a case by case basis, when such conditions are not regulated by the European Regulation.

Authorizations are delivered for the specific use in question.

Flights which do not fall within one of the four Uses must be specially authorised on a case by case basis.

5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?

General

Yes.

Leisure and Experimental

Prohibited.

Professional

Only captive UAS are authorized on an autonomous basis.  Autonomous UAS for professional activity is prohibited.

Autonomous Captive UAS must comply with criteria in Use 1 or 3 (save as regards the pilot). The captive UAS must not constitute an obstacle.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety

6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?

General

The DGAC may prohibit or restrict the use of a UAS if it has knowledge of a safety problem or in the case of noncompliance with the regulatory requirements by the operator or pilot.

There are basic legal obligations in the Use of Airspace Regulation:

  • Operate the UAS in such a manner as to avoid risk of damage to other aircraft;
  • UAS to be piloted and flown in accordance with the Aircraft and User Regulation;
  • No night flights unless segregation of UAS activity from other airspace users or unless authorised localisations;
  • No use of UAS without sight in cloud unless segregation of UAS activity from other airspace users or unless in authorised localisations.

It is the responsibility of the pilot to take visual and audio measures to detect other aircraft. He must give way to any manned aircraft. He must apply the safety priority rules set forth in the Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) vis à vis other UAS.

Safety is implemented by regulating (i) the UAS and (ii) their conditions of use. Safety issues deal principally with protecting third parties on the ground and other users of airspace.

Airspace

UAS are not authorised to fly above 150 metres.

For without sight operations, flight above 50 metres is prohibited (unless the UAS weighs 2 kg or less).

All without sight operations near airfields, in controlled airspace areas or regulated access airspace must be previously notified and/or authorised.

Third Parties

Flight over certain sensitive sites is prohibited or subject to authorisation.

Security areas must be established to prevent access of unauthorised third parties.

Flight over persons is only permitted outside built up areas and at a distance from gatherings or crowds, provided the UAS weighs less than 2 kg.

In built up areas and gatherings and crowds, remotely piloted UAS must adhere to conditions of mass, and UAS in excess of 2kg must be captive or equipped with an impact energy reduction device on crash.

Flights in built up areas must be notified prior thereto to the local Prefect.

Remote controlled UAS must hold a conception certificate issued by the DGAC.

UAS in excess of 25 kg must satisfy specific technical conditions on a case by case basis.

UAS used other than within the rules in Response 4 above must satisfy specific technical conditions on a case by case basis.

Technical requirements are equally imposed for safety reasons:

As of 1st July 2018, aircraft exceeding 800 grams must be equipped with a luminous and an electronic or digital signal device (unless operated in specific authorized zones).

As of 1st July 2018, aircraft exceeding 800 grams must be equipped with a capacity limitation device and a sound signal triggered in case of loss of control of evolution of the UAS or loss of command of the UAS trajectory by the pilot (unless operated in specific authorized zones).

For recorded aircraft before 1st July 2018, these requirements enter into force on 1st January 2019. The sound signal requirement does not apply to UAS recorded before 1st July 2018.

Leisure and Experimental

UAS flights must be postponed or interrupted in case of proximity of a manned aircraft.

UAS flights must not overfly persons and vehicles and must maintain a minimum-security distance.

Crowds must be avoided.

Professional

The User and Aircraft Regulation stipulates that the use of UAS over French territory for professional use assumes that the aircraft and associated systems necessary for its operation and the persons implementing the same, comply with the conditions of the User and Aircraft Regulation.

  • User Documentation

A user documentation is required for all UAS other than captive UAS comprising:

  • User manual (security verifications before flight, weight limitations, weather limitations, security devices, and programming and urgency procedures); and
  • Maintenance manual
  • Technical requirements

Captive UAS must satisfy criteria relating to security of holding device, resistance of structure of UAS.

UAS third party protection process (limitation of energy of impact from maximum height, triggered by pilot command even in case of failure of autonomous directional device, deployment of parachute).

Non-captive UAS are subject to the following requirements:

  • The pilot must have altitude readings;
  • UAS must have automatic maximum height programming;
  • The pilot must be able to force emergency landing, and this must be capable of verification by pilot before flight;
  • Loss of contact automatically triggers specific landing process.

UAS greater than 25kg must satisfy additional technical criteria to reinforce safety.

Additional safety measures apply to Uses 2 and 4.

Additional technical conditions or use limitations may be imposed if the UAS has unusual conception or use characteristics.

The UAS must be maintained in accordance with its maintenance manual. The Operator must declare UAS exceeding 25kg apt for flight in its annual report.

In the case of modification or repair, the Operator must ensure that the UAS remains conform to the applicable technical conditions.

Any modification or repair of a UAS which has a conception certificate, which renders the UAS non-conform to one of the elements in the technical file filed to obtain the certificate must be submitted to the DSAC for approval and revision of the certificate.

  • Obligations of Use

Flight preparation:

  • Flight information – use of flight information maps, knowledge of airspace regulations, verification of permanent or temporary restrictions or any other security related information, weather.
  • Maximum height: the Operator sets a maximum height for each flight compatible with the applicable regulations and the limits of use of the aircraft.
  • The Operator puts in place third party ground security measures.
  • The Operator designates the pilot and if other persons are required for security purposes defines each role.

Before flight:

  • The Pilot verifies that sufficient energy reserves necessary for the flight with a margin of security.
  • The Pilot carries out the security checks and:
  • Ensures that the maximum height and distances are programmed;
  • Ensures that the emergency landing procedure has been programmed; and
  • Does not carry out the flight in case of detected anomaly.

Protection of third parties on the ground:

  • Clearance of zone and prevention of access.
  • Restriction of access – pilots, protected areas.
  • For uses 1, 3, and 4 signed certificates by person present confirming the understanding of safety rules.
  • Specific minimum exclusion zones are established depending on the Use and captive or non-captive UAS.
  • Minimum horizontal distance from a motorway or highway (except if neutralized) – 30m (non applicable to Use 4).
  • Minimum horizontal distance from a railway track (except if specific agreement) – 30m (non applicable to Use 4).
  • Use limitations.

Radio frequencies used for the command and control of the UAS and emitting conditions must be in compliance with the regulations.

The Operator shall apply the safety measures published by the DSAC and the manufacturer (UAS and command system).

  • No use by a pilot on board a moving vehicle (other than a ship).
  • Use restricted to the limits of airworthiness, manufacturer’s requirements, the user scenario and applicable regulations.
  • The pilot ensures that the UAS remains within its maximum flight limits – automatic devices preventing overrun or alarm signal, specific flight interruption functions and flight recorders.
  • For Use No 4 flights, the pilot has real time visuals.
  • Conception certificates and user manuals set forth the safety practices and functionalities and flight tests establish conformity of security devices and urgency landing perimeters.
  • In Use No 1, if the pilot temporarily loses vision due to obstacles, pilot must have analyzed the site before flight to verify the absence of danger, has full vision of the environment surrounding the obstacles and is able to anticipate the point at which vision is renewed.
  • The transportation of dangerous substances with a UAS is prohibited.

7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?

General

Yes.

In addition, the Aircraft and User Regulation provides that in the case where several persons are capable of operating the UAS command system, one of such persons has the role of pilot and is in charge of flight safety.

The respect of with sight conditions is assessed with respect to such pilot, this pilot has his own command system or failing which, is in a position at all times to access the command system in order to maintain flight safety. The other persons may then not be considered as pilot.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing

8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?

General

The right to operate a UAS and the formalities to be completed will depend upon (i) the UAS category and (ii) the Use

Article L6214-2 of the Transport Code provides that UAS pilots must have followed training in relation to the control of the evolution of UAS in safety and in accordance with the aviation rules.  This does not apply to leisure uses of small light weight UAS (below 800 grams).

The specifics in this regard are awaited from the legislator.

Certain without sight professional operations will require special pilot qualifications.

Leisure and Experimental

The use of a category A UAS does not require authorisation and is operated under the responsibility of the pilot.

The use of a category B UAS requires prior approval from the DGAC:

  • Request for authorisation is made together with filing of technical file in the format provided on line.
  • Temporary authorisation is granted for 6 months to enable the finalization of the UAS technical compliance tests and pilot training (theory and practical) and aptitude demonstrations.
  • Thereafter the DGAC issues a flight authorisation stating:
  • the operator;
  • UAS model;
  • operational specifics;
  • technical file reference;
  • list of authorised pilots;
  • any specific limitations.

For UAS holding a valid airworthiness document issued in accordance with European regulations, flight authorisations are issued once the pilots who use the UAS have proven their aptitude during aptitude flight demonstrations.

Flight authorisations are granted for an indefinite period, provided the operator files an annual certificate certifying that the UAS is conform to the technical file or to the European regulation airworthiness documents and no anomalies have occurred affecting flight safety. The certificate form is available on line.

Changes in the UAS technical file, special use of the UAS or pilot will require new demonstrations and authorisations.

In the case of sale of the UAS, which results in the change of beneficiary of the authorisation, in order to transfer liability for compliance to the new operator, a notification must be filed with the DSAC/NO/NAV. Forms are available online.

Professional

The controls operate at two levels: the person responsible for the UAS professional/commercial activity (the “Operator”) and the pilot (the “Pilot”).

The Operator

  • The Operator must register and declare its activity with the DGAC.
  • This can be carried out online by registering on the special dedicated portal “MON ESPACE DRONE”.
  • The declaration must be renewed every 24 months and all modifications to information previously provided must be declared. The renewal period of 24 months runs from the date of receipt of the modified declaration.

The Operator must:

  1. identify the Uses he intends to operate (the Manual of Special Activities must cover the Use and the UAS must fulfil the criteria for the Use);
  2. identify his UAS (owned or leased) stating maximum weight and authorised Uses (with appropriate homologation information);
  3. provide the reference number and version of special activities manual (MAP) in force on the declaration date;
  4. satisfy the regulatory requirements.

An operator number will be allocated to the Operator. A declaration receipt will be issued immediately.

The Operator must prepare a Manual of Special Activities (MAP).

Comprising organisation of Operator, description of special activities, UAS to be used, level of aptitude of pilots, description of reporting, analysis and monitoring processes, general flight procedures, and identification of characteristics of and procedures for each UAS.

MAP’s must be up to date at all times. They are not needed if the Operators uses only captive UAS.

Operator’s personnel must be made aware of obligation of compliance with the MAP.

For Use 4, the Operator (and its client) must analyse the ability of the UAS to fulfil the mission envisaged and analyse the risks to third parties (ground and in flight). Experimental flights are carried out to ensure compatibility. Safety measures are drawn up (notably interruption procedures). Liabilities (operator/client) and surveillance methods are set.

This analysis is signed by the Operator and the client and lodged with the civil aviation ministry for approval. Approval can be sought for several flights on identical conditions.

This additional agreement takes precedence over the special activities manual.

The Operator must possess the following documents and make these available on site in the case of control:

  • Receipt of declaration of activity;
  • Certificate of conception of the UAS;
  • Up-to-date Manual of Special Activities (“MAP”);
  • Certificate of competence of the pilot delivered by the DGAC for UAS ≥ 25 kg (unless captive);
  • Safety file approved by the DSAC (Use 4);
  • Special zone approval and copies of agreements with departments/bodies in question; and
  • Any other authorisations delivered by the DGAC for the mission.

Each Operator is required to file with the DSAC an annual report indicating the number of flight hours per domain of activity and per Use. The report must contain a summary of problems encountered with regard to safety issues and identify measures taken to remedy the same. It shall declare UAS in excess of 25kg apt for flight.

The report can be filed online in the “MON ESPACE DRONE” portal or addressed to the local DSAC/IR by using the standard form (Form Cerfa 15474) available online.

Failure to file an annual report may give rise to an operating prohibition.

If an Operator carries out recurrent activity at a same site, he is required to obtain the prior agreement of the regional airspace management committee (Form Cerfa 15478) available online.

French regulations will evolve in this connection in the near future (2018).

The Pilot

  • The Pilot must hold a certificate of aptitude (theory – certain existing certificates are recognised such as ULM pilot), and the Operator must ensure that the Pilot has sufficient knowledge of the regulations relating to UAS, the MAP, and the technical and functional principles of piloting the Operator’s UAS. Exclusions available for Captive UAS pilots.
  • The Operator determines the practical training for the Pilot, organises training and demonstration flights, and issues a Declaration of Competence Level (“DNC”).
  • Pilots operating UAS for Use 4, must hold an aircraft, helicopter or glider licence (and/or certain military licences), and have more than 100 flight hours as pilot in command.
  • Licences delivered by the French DGAC and any licence delivered by another UE State under the EASA Regulation is acceptable subject to certain exceptions. Military qualifications may be acceptable.
  • For Use 4 operations the Pilot must have proof of 20 hours practical experience with the UAS model in question during the preceding 6 months.
  • For UAS in excess of 25kg, a pilot certificate must be requested from and issued by the DSAC after a demonstration flight which corresponds to the same UAS type and activity envisaged.

The Operator indicates in its MAP the list of authorised Pilots (and keeps available records of all documents and certificates concerning each pilot) and any restrictions concerning their certification. The MAP must describe pilot authorisation procedures and ongoing training procedures.

Any activity requiring the need to exceed the maximum flight distances must be authorised.

9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?

General

No.

 

10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?

Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?

General

Certificate of conception and an obligation to implement published safety measures.

Professional

UAS which:

  • weigh in excess of 25kg, or
  • are used in Use 2, or
  • weigh in excess of 2 kg (other than captive UAS) and are used in Use 3, or
  • are used in Use 4

must hold a Conception Certificate issued by the DGAC. Certificates can be requested on a case by case basis.

Those UAS which do not require a conception certificate may only be used if the operator ensures that the UAS is conform to safety conditions and that in respect of non-captive UAS that they are equipped with certain technical characteristics (altitude reading, maximum height programming, engine cut out in flight, fail safe function in case of loss of control) and a user and maintenance manual are drafted.

A UAS is considered apt for flight:

  • If it meets the safety rules (see 6 above);
  • If it is modified or repaired in accordance with Regulation;
  • It has been maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations or maintenance manual; and
  • Conception certificate directives and limitations have been respected.

No known functional problems of any function required by the Regulation or which may call into question its aptitude to satisfy the security objectives of the Regulation.

11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?

General

No.

 

12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?

General

None (see response 17)

 

13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?

General

Not specifically. This is a new area and will necessarily result in new regulatory measures.

Special authorization is therefore required.

Certain test projects exist – such as the French Postal service who has been testing parcel delivery.

Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others

14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?

The general principles under French law will apply.

Generally French law imposes the respect of the private life and individuals.  When filmed, individuals must be informed beforehand and any use of film footage in which individuals or their belongings can be recognised must be authorised by the persons in question.

The collection of personal data is also regulated and subject to notification and declaration requirements to the CNIL (Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés).

Data and Privacy Protection is regulated in various different manners in France.  The type of regulation will depend on whether photographs or film are taken by the UAS.

Specifically:

↗ Flight over private property:

Article L 6211-3 of the French Transport Code provides that aircraft are authorised to fly over private property, but such right must be exercised so as not to affect the owner’s property rights.

↗ Image taking:

Article D 133-10 of the Civil Aviation Code (implemented by the Arrêté of 27th July 2005) provides for 3 situations: where the taking of images is restricted, prohibited or subject to prior declaration or authorisation. This article sets forth the use that may be made of images taken.

An Arrêté of 27th October 2017 identifies the zones over which the taking of aerial views is prohibited and this applies to UAS.

The Operator and the Pilot are responsible for verifying whether the taking of images is permitted.

Aerial view

Image taking (other than occasional image taking)

  • Visible spectre requires a declaration 15 days prior to the operation with the local civil aviation authority.

Foreign operators must declare to the Paris offices of the civil aviation authority.

For remotely piloted UAS operators, an annual declaration made at least 15 days prior to the first aerial view taking flight is sufficient.

  • Invisible spectre (radar, heat, etc…) requires a prior authorisation which is granted for a maximum period of 3 years by the State, together with the approval of local military and border control police.

Authorisations can be suspended and/or withdrawn.

Foreign operators obtain such authorisation from the Paris Prefect after approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the representative of the military police in Paris.

The declaration and authorisation request forms are available online.

  • Prohibited sites: Certain sites are prohibited for the purpose of aerial image taking.

The lists are updated and the current list is set forth in the Arrêté dated 27th October 2017.

Derogations may be granted on a case by case basis by the appropriate body in charge of the site in question and the appropriate State department.

Compliance with D 133-10 may be controlled by the State police.

Failure to respect the provisions of the Article D 113-10 may result in the definitive confiscation of images taken and the supports used for the reproduction thereof. Other penal sanctions may be imposed.

15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?

General

Radio frequencies used for the command and control of the UAS and emitting conditions must be in compliance with the regulations.

 

16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?

General

Indirectly with respect to the requirement to obtain conception certificates for certain UAS models.

The French Consumer code now provides in its Article L425-1 that manufacturers or importers of UAS must include in the packaging of their products and spare parts, an information notice relating to the use of UAS.  The notice must set forth the principles and rules to be respected for the use of UAS in compliance with applicable legislation and regulations.

This rule applies to sellers of second hand UAS.

New implementing draft legislation is pending in this respect.

Furthermore UAS are to comply with the functionality requirements, notably for safety (see Response 6).

Professional

UAS which:

  • have weight in excess of 25kg,
  • are used in Use 2,
  • have weight in excess of 2 kg (other than captive UAS) and are used in Use 3, or
  • are used in Use 4,

must hold a Conception Certificate issued by the DGAC. Certificates can be requested on a case by case basis.

The conception certificate will set out the operations authorised and any use limitations.

Standard UAS manufacturers may issue a manufacturer ‘type’ Conception Certificate for the model in question. In such case, the manufacturer provides a copy of the conception certificate with a serial number, a certificate of conformity of the UAS and delivers the user maintenance manuals.

Manufacturers have an obligation to monitor UAS incidents and propose corrections of problems impacting security.  They are required to make documentary evidence relating to the conception certificate available to the civil aviation authorities.

 

17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?

General

A foreign Operator of a remotely piloted UAS which has obtained an authorisation delivered by a foreign authority may use such authorisation as the basis for special authorisation from the French DGAC to operate the UAS on French territory.

Such overseas authorisation may relieve it of certain or all (notably in the UE) the requirements set forth in the French regulations, provided however that the overseas authorisation guarantees the same level of security.

The operation of UAS on French territory is governed by and subject to the French regulations.

18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?

General

No.

 

The Aircraft (“UAS”)

19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?

General

The Transport Code provides in Article L6111-I that UAS operated by a pilot within the meaning of L 6214-1, whose mass exceeds 800g are required to be recorded.

UAS which exceed 25kg are required to be registered.

Captive UAS do not need to be registered.

Professional

Specific rules apply to the compulsory markings on the UAS which identify the Operator of the UAS.

UAS in excess of 25 kg must be attributed identification marks which must be marked on the UAS. The request made by the Operator to the DGAC is accompanied by the conception certificate

 

20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?

General

Owner, operator and mortgagor.

21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?

General

An aircraft can only be registered in France if it fulfills one of the following conditions:

1. it belongs to a French or UE or EEE citizen, or

2. it belongs to a company incorporated in accordance with UE or EEE legislations with its principal place of business/registered office in France or an EU or EEE State;

3. it is operated by a carrier whose operating license has been delivered by the French administration.

Leave to register aircraft which do not fulfil such criteria but are operated in France or are pending certification may be requested on a case by case basis.

22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?

General

See responses 6 and 10.

Operation Zones

23. Which are the operational and distance limitations for an aerial work with a UAS? Is there any kind of certificate or permission to operate beyond those limitations?

General

The Regulations set forth different restrictions on the use of UAS which vary depending on the (i) model of the UAV and (ii) the type of Use.

Leisure and Experimental

Operational Limitations

There are no specific conditions on use for operators of UAS Category A models.

The use of a UAS Category B model must correspond to the use indicated in the operator’s authorisation.

The pilot is responsible for assessing his aptitude to carry out the flights of the UAS used.

UAS are only authorised to carry out:

  • With Sight flights (which include Immersion Flights – First Person Vision flights), and
  • During the day (unless special authorisation for night flight has been obtained or in segregated area).

The carrying and dropping of objects from the UAS, weighing less than 500g is authorised, in authorised specific UAS locations.

The pilot may not operate from a moving vehicle.

Photo and image taking by a UAV is authorised for non-commercial/professional purposes (subject to the privacy restrictions – see Response 14).

Distance Limitation

Maximum height: 150 metres maximum above ground or water.

(Authorised to fly over artificial obstacles exceeding 100 m up to a maximum height of 50m above the said obstacle).

This height allowance is reduced to 50 m above military training areas (during certain days and hours).

Authorization is required from air traffic control for certain airfield airspace and for flights above 50m in other controlled airspace.  In certain circumstances the signature of a written protocol will be required with the appropriate authority before authorization is granted.

The above restrictions do not apply to those activities which have an authorised localization area.

Professional

Operational Limitations

UAS must be operated in compliance with the authorisation obtained.

UAS are prohibited from transporting dangerous goods as defined in the OACJ instructions.

The use of UAS for the aerial spraying with phyto-pharmaceutical products is only authorised in cases of extreme health risk urgencies and in any event must be specifically authorised.

Night flights must be authorized unless carried out in regulatory segregated airspace. Request for derogation is to be made to the local prefect, the DSAC and the local defence department 30 days before operations.

Without sight flights must be notified prior thereto to the Defence Ministry via the Mon Espace Drone portal.

Distance Limitations

The Regulations limit the height at which UAS can operate as follows:

UAS type and use Height above ground and water
UAS on sight (Use 1 and 3) 150 m
UAS ≤ 2 kg OFF SIGHT (Use 2 and 4) 150 m
UAS ≥ 2 kg OFF SIGHT 50 m

(Right to go above 150 m to go over an artificial obstacle of more than 100 m provided no higher than 50 m above obstacle).

One can request authorisation to exceed the above heights for ON SIGHT Flights (application to the airspace regional management committee).

One can request authorisation to exceed the above heights for OFF SIGHT Flights  by way of derogation sought by application to the local prefect and approval of DSAC et Defence department concerned. airspace regional management committee).  Authorization is not necessary in the case of flight in a zone benefitting from segregation of airspace between UAS and other airspace users.

The horizontal distances are set in the Use scenario definition (see Response 4).

24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?

Leisure and Experimental

No, however with the exception of the specific zone required for clubs and associations.

25. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?

General

Airspace other than restricted airspace.

26. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?

General

Generally:

  • UAS are not flown in prohibited zones (as defined in UE Regulation No923/2012) except if they comply with the published penetration conditions.
  • UAS are not flown in regulated or dangerous zones except on basis of specific published authorizations or with zone controller authorization.
  • Minimum overhead distances don’t apply to UAS, but UAS must conform to published overflight prohibitions or restrictions (notably in respect of establishments bearing low overhead flight prohibition marks), except if specifically authorized by the establishment).
  • UAS are not to be flown near takeoff and landing infrastructure or within aerodrome/airfields, unless specifically authorized.

For without sight flights, the authorizations above mentioned must take the form of a written protocol.

More specifically:

Restrictions/Prohibitions

Prior agreement is required for these zone

Regulated or dangerous zones: Permanent zones: prohibited, published by AIP ENR 5.1.

  • Permanent zones: prohibited, published by AIP ENR 5.1.
  • Temporary zones: published by SUP AIP or by NOTAM.

UAS are prohibited within permanent and temporary prohibited zones (AIP ENR 5.1).

↗ Military manoeuvres and training areas:

(the sites are published on the DIRCAM website (http://www.dircam.air.defense.gouv.fr)

Authorizations are required during periods open for use.

Certain national parks and nature reserves listed in AIP ENR 5.6 are prohibited except as permitted therein or in accordance with specific park regulations.

↗ Establishments (marked with low flying prohibition or sensitive or protected – Authorization required):

E.g.

  • Hospitals
  • Prisons
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Historical Monuments

↗ In proximity to airfields:

The rules will depend on the airfield and whether or not the airfield is in a controlled zone. Specific distances and heights apply to airfields proximity.

Regulated zones are listed in the aeronautical information published by SIA (Service de l’Information Aéronautique).

↗ On sites of accident and fire:

It should be noted that no special derogation authorisations are granted with regard to the rules for the insertion of UAS into airspace other that those specifically set forth in the Regulations.

The criminal liability of pilots has been considerably reinforced by the law of 24th October 2016. Articles L.6232-12 and L.6232-13 of the Transport Code provide that pilots who breach the prohibition to fly over prohibited areas (notably military or public security prohibitions) risk 6 months imprisonment and a 15 000€ fine, even if such over flight is through negligence or mistake. (If the breach is intentional, one year imprisonment and 45 000€ fine). The UAS in question may also be confiscated, which impacts the owner and potentially its relationship with the client in professional use cases. This provision is in addition to the sharing of liability by those responsible for the safety of the UAS operations.

Leisure and experimental

Public space:

Model Aircraft UAS are prohibited from flying over:

  • public spaces (public roads and areas-parks, beaches) and areas open to the public, and

(Certain public areas may specifically authorise use of model aircraft UAS).

  • in agglomerations as defined by the French highway Code (R 110-2).

Private Space

Use in private areas is subject to owner consent and must be adapted (height and speed) to the environment.

Regulated Zones

Regulated zones listed in the aeronautical information published by SIA (Service de l’Information Aéronautique). The information is permanent (AIP) or temporary and/or urgent (NOTAM/SUP)

(http://www.sia-aviation-civile.gouv.fr)

Certain regulated zones may restrict access to certain hours of the day.

These zones include military manoeuvres and training areas:

The sites are published on the DIRCAM website (http://www.dircam.air.defense.gouv.fr) and airfields (the rules will depend on the airfield and whether or not the airfield is in a controlled zone. Specific distances  and heights apply to airfields proximity).

Map information is available to Operators on recreational UAS restrictions and prohibitions on a special dedicated website.

(http://geoportail.gouv.fr/donnees/restrictions-pour-drones-de-loisir)

Associations and Clubs

UAS associations and clubs may only operate on authorised sites which have been prior approved by the DGAC. The authorisation will be published and indicate the site, type of activity, maximum height, hours, etc.

Professional

Areas requiring prior declaration

↗ Flights in inhabited areas: (Form. Cerfa n°15476 DGAC)

5 working days before the operation and within one month of the notification.

A combination of flights over a series of days (max 7) can be declared.

Flight authorised in absence of response from local Prefect. The Prefect can elect to prohibit the flight or impose restrictions.

Areas requiring prior notification

↗Without sight flights

↗With sight flights equal to or exceeding 50m over military manoeuvres and training areas on published user hours:

(the sites are published on the DIRCAM website (http://www.dircam.air.defense.gouv.fr)

Areas requiring prior authorization

In addition to the general rules:  Authorization is required from air traffic control for certain airfield airspace and for flights above 50m in other controlled airspace.  In certain circumstances the signature of a written protocol will be required with the appropriate authority before authorization is granted.

Regulated zones are listed in the aeronautical information published by SIA (Service de l’Information Aéronautique).

Derogations

Subject to the overriding condition that UAS should be flown without risk of damage to other aircraft, the Use of Airspace Regulation provides that the restrictions above do not apply to UAS chartered or leased by the State or the Prefect for safety, recovery, customs, police or civil security missions. If the maximum authorised distances are to be exceeded, special operation measures are implemented to ensure the compatibility with other air traffic. Derogations to night operations and off sight distance rules may be granted provided special operation measures are implemented to ensure the compatibility with other air traffic.

27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?

General

See response 26.

28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?

General

Direction des services de la Navigation aérienne (DSNA)is responsable for general air traffic control.  Numerous projects are in preparation for private UAS traffic management and control.

Liability and Accidents

29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?

General

N/A

30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?

General

There are no specific rules for surface damage caused by UAS.  The general rules of liability applicable to aircraft under the provisions of the Transport Code will apply.

31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?

General

To encourage notifications, Article L 6223-2 of the Transport Code provides:

“No administrative, disciplinary or professional sanction may be inflicted on a person who notifies an event upon the conditions set forth in L 6223-1, whether or not that person was implicated or not in the event, except if such person is himself guilty of a deliberate breach or repeated breach of safety rules”.

The purpose is to cross information and experience to improve safety, operating procedures and technical process for manufacturers, and the evolution of UAS legislation.

Professional

Yes.

A notification procedure is in place. Operators, Pilots and manufacturers are required to report operating and conception incidents.

The Regulations set forth the types of safety events that must be notified by Operators of Professional UAS who must report incidents affecting or which could have affected the safety of third parties and in particular relating to:

  • breakdown/failure of the functionalities required by the User and Aircraft Regulation (to the DSAC);
  • loss of liaison with the command and control of the UAS (to the DSAC); and
  • operating malfunctions/problems (to the manufacturer/holder of the conception certificate).

In the case of Professional Use n°2 and Use n°4 and upon request of the DSAC, the Operator transmits recorded flight information and their analysis following an accident or serious incident. Manufacturers may be requested to provide their analysis of functioning incidents. Operators are required to implement an analysis system and follow through with respect to the above incidents.

The process is described in the MAP (see Response 8 above).

A notification form is set out in online. Accidents/serious incidents should be notified promptly and within 6 working days following other types of incident.

In addition to incident related notifications, the Operator’s annual report must contain details of safety issues encountered during the year. The sharing of incident experiences is made on an anonymous basis (Operators, model of UAS, sites).

32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?

General

See response 31.

33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?

General

There is no specific regulation regarding insurance for UAS operators.

UAS Operator is liable for surface damage caused to persons and objects under the general provisions of Article L 6131-1 and L 6131-2 of the French transport Code.

An Operator may also engage its liability under general civil law principles for damage caused generally and notably to other aircraft.

34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?

General

The Operator will be required to insure its civil liability in relation to the operation of the UAS.  Operators should also insure the UAS itself for damage and accident.

Financial Support and State Aid

35. Are there sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the UAS sector? If not, do general state aid rules apply?

General

No, but there do exist grant and credit systems for the technical and other sectors.  Local authorities and state may provide financial support through grants for projects with UAS e.g. topography, urbanism.  Innovation grants may also be granted.

The French military police obtained a European grant for UAS.

36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?

General

N/A

37. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?

General

N/A

38. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?

General

N/A

Miscellaneous

Mon Espace Drone” is a dedicated portal for professional operators.  Operators may manage their personal information, make the declarations of activity, lodge annual reports, make notifications to the ministries of all without sight flights and excessive height derogations over military and manoeuvre zones.

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