Austria passes restrictive UAV laws

February 13, 2014 11:47 | By | 4 Comments

The worst case scenario in UAV legislation, aside from an outright ban, are regulations that make operating UAVs prohibitively expensive for small businesses. Unfortunately this exactly what’s happening in Austria. Any commercial use of RC models falls under a complex set of rules that determine which permits, and how much money, a drone operator has to have to legally fly. The important thing here is that this pertains all flights taken for reasons other than the flight itself. In other words, as soon as the goal of the flight is to take pictures, it’s not an RC model anymore. Strictly speaking, show flights are also not made for the purpose of the flight itself, but to run a show. Needless to say, there’s a lot of room for interpretation, and the line from RC model to UAV is a thin one, and easily crossed.

What Austrocontrol has done is separate the use of drones into four classes, depending on weight and where the flight is to take place. Depending on the category, different rules and regulations come into play.


All classes come with the requirement of both a license to operate UAVs, as well as individual flight permissions. According to Austrocontrol, the administrative overhead will cost the UAV operator “just a few hundred euros”. Class C and D come with a heavy set of additional requirements:



Needless to say, these regulations exceed those of private ultralight aircraft which often weigh more than such UAVs. And again, you have to keep in mind that any RC flight that is not just “for fun” falls under these regulations. So if you get a small meal for doing some show flying, you have to get a Class A or B license.



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Comments (4)

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  1. Simon Laikie says:

    I am British but I live near Wien in Austria and in 2013 I bought a Steadidrone Quadcopter with UAV capability with the idea that I would fly FPV in wild / farm areas. With battery and Gopro camera it weighs less than 5 Kg. I have no desire to make money with the thing or fly near buildings / people, other than myself. But reading the description above it would seem that I would need a class A licence. Is this a grey area and how likely am I to get in trouble with the law if I fly it in an empty field or at a friends farm in the Styrmark where I have permission to fly? Is FPV strictly banned, I have not flown FPV but I would like to try it. is it allowed if you have a second person as spotter?

    I was thinking about buying a Sprite (this is a drone currently on kickstarter that looks like a drinks bottle and is a similar size) It looks like a toy but again it has a UAV capability and a HD camera.

    I also have 2 Parrot AR drones which also have a cameras mounted on them and weigh about 500 gramms with a large capacity battery. Strictly speaking these would also seem to fall in the same catagory if you follow the letter of the law. The Austro control website talks about toys being exempt as long as they have less 79 joules of kinetic energy (about 250 grams): The AR drone is heavier than that. It’s not very fast though so unlikely to do damage. Whatabout the Parrot Bebop, that weighs 400g, it is a toy not a serious Quad?

    If it is reletively easy and cheap to obtain a licence I may do so. To be clear I always flew in accordance with good practice, I do not fly near people or near property (other than in my back garden with an AR drone) I always flew under 400 feet and I always maintained visual contact with the model. I’d be too scared to fly it out of visual range anyway.

    I really would like to keep doing this hobby because it is a lot of fun but if it is too difficult then I may have to sell my Quads.

    Do you have any Idea how much a Class A and Chass B licence is because i can’t find that information on the Austrocontrol website?

    Thanks in Advance

    • Carl says:

      Hi Simon
      Did yo manage to get your Class “A” license as I want to visit Zell am See and Flachau this winter and would like capture my friends riding in the snow.

      Ive emailed both resorts and they say that I need to get approval from Austrocontrol first.

      Thanks for any information you could provide.

      • Simon Laikie says:

        Hi Carl

        Sorry for the extremely late reply, I have not been on this website for a long time and I did not receive notification of your reply.

        No I have not yet got round to getting my Class A licence. I have not flown my Steadidrone QU4D since then either and I’m trying to sell it. No takers yet. Basically I am not prepared to pay costs of a licence so I am sticking to flying models that are under the 79 Joule limit and then as long as you stick to the rules you can fly without a licence. AR drones and the Parrot Beebop drones are file and are within 79 Joules. I also recently bought a Yuneek Breeze which is well within the rules. Unfortunately a Parrot Beebop2 drone is not within the limit as it is quite fast. By my calculations it can generate 81 Joules of KE if flown flat out so you would need a licence for that. DJI phantoms and the DJI Mavic also require a licence. The annoying thing is you need a licence for each drone, so if you have 3 you would have to pay 3 times.

  2. Filmo says:

    How about flying in these addresses not for commercial purpose with a standard UAVO license
    Obere Kirchengasse 6, 2103 Langenzersdorf
    Sebastian-Kohl-Gasse 3-9, 1210 Wien
    Probably Phantom pro (in terms of weight)
    Is it allowed ?

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