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Spain clamps down on drones

There's no law to cover them, therefore they're banned

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Spain's Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea (State Air Security Agency - AESA) has issued a declaration in which it reminds citizens that the commercial or professional use of "drones" is illegal, and that amateur UAV operation is restricted to "authorised areas".

The document (PDF) stresses that "the use of remote control aircraft for commercial or professional ends is not allowed, and never has been".

This includes sending up vehicles for aerial photography, "intelligent agriculture" (examination of crops, etc), any kind of aerial report, checking high-tension power lines or railways, border control, detection of forest fires or reconnaissance over areas affected by natural disasters in order to direct rescue services".

Regarding amateur UAVs, AESA says they come under model aircraft rules, which dictate a maximum ceiling of 100m within authorised areas, and most certainly not over "urban centres, groups of people (beaches, concerts, the streets of any city, etc)".

The agency also debunks a myth regarding a "free fly zone" up to 400ft, in which aircraft can soar with impunity. "AESA's authority extends to the ground," it notes.

Effectively, AESA has grounded pretty well every UAV in Spain, except those belonging to the military, which can fly in "segregated airspace". The agency is actually able to authorise specific flights for private operators, but while it's working on a new set of rules to classify such aircraft, and lay down rules for their operation, it "cannot grant said authorisations because there is no legal basis for it".

Spaniards wishing to fly UAVs without the risk of a fine can do so in "completely closed areas", such as "a factory or sports centre, a convention centre, a private home, etc", although football stadiums are off limits, unless they're "completely covered, without any type of opening".

According to this report, a notable victim of the ban could be the newly-inaugurated Air Traffic Laboratory for Advanced unmanned Systems (ATLAS) in Jaén.

The centre, into which the regional government of Andalusia sank €4.5m, "offers the international aerospace community the first permanent technological-scientific facility to safely perform tests, simulations and validation of technologies to be applied to UAVs".

However the company responsible for overseeing the site's construction insists AESA "approved the definition of an airspace surrounding the aerodrome as a Temporary Segregated Area (TSA), in order to carry out tests with no restrictions". ®

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