Professional drone regulations

The drones use in the workplace is increasingly regulated around the world. Indeed, these flying machines evolve very quickly and can in some cases represent a serious threat (espionage, attack …). However, there is still no common regulation at the global level. Currently, legislation varies from country to country. Even if the European Union thinks about the establishment of a rules standardization.



In 2014, a interactive web map has been published to allow drone pilots to know the regulations in force country by country. This one is updated regularly.

In France, the professional drone regulations are particularly clear. The outdoor use of small and large flying aircraft, whether inhabited or not, is governed by the Civil Aviation Regulations. It is from 2012 that the DGAC (General Directorate of Civil Aviation) begins to put in place strict rules concerning the professional drones use

professional drone regulations

Flight scenarios of professional drones

The regulation distinguishes four scenarios that each have different flight authorization conditions. To use a professional drone outside of these four scenarios, you must obtain a specific authorization.

• S-1: Flight taking place at direct sight, in an unpopulated area at a maximum horizontal distance of 200 m and at a maximum height of 150 m above ground level. The maximum weight of the device is 25 kg.

• S-2: Flight taking place out of sight with the authorized FPV, in an unpopulated area in a horizontal dimension of 1 km maximum. For devices up to 25 Kg, the authorized flight height is 50 m above the ground. If the weight of the drone is less than 2kg, the height allowed is 150m.

• S-3: Flight taking place in a populated area (built-up area) with a maximum horizontal distance of 100 m and a maximum height of 150 m above ground level. The maximum weight of the device is 8 Kg.

• S-4: Non-sighted flight with mandatory FPV in an unpopulated area at a maximum height of 50 m above ground level. The weight of the device is 2 Kg maximum.


Professional drone regulations in France


Sensitive sites

Pilots of professional drones but also of recreational drones are forbidden to fly over certain sensitive sites. These include urban areas, aerodromes and nuclear power plants. Any use of drones inside controlled or regulated areas must be subject to prior authorization.
On October 27, 2017, a decree updates the list of areas prohibited for aerial photography.

The declaration to the DGAC

All aircraft operators used for specific professional or commercial activities must report their activity to the DGAC. They must renew this declaration every time the activity is changed and systematically every 24 months.
However, we must be vigilant because many professionals in the drone world misuse the logo of the DGAC or appear mentions such as “operator approved DGAS / DSAC” without having received authorization. The decree of 2 October 2017 specifies that operators must obtain the express consent of the DGAC. If not, they run the risk of legal action.

Since August 30, 2017, a web portal titled MY ESPACE DRONE allows professional drone operators to:
– Manage their personal data
– Perform activity statements or annual activity reports
– Notify the Ministry of the Armed Forces of all non-sighted flights and in sight flights or more than 50 m high in areas of maneuvering and military training
– View the history of the steps taken
It should be noted that operators declared to the DGAC automatically benefit from an account and therefore do not need to create one.

Technological constraints

The DGAC may also set rules relating to aircraft technology. For example, the decree of January 1, 2017 indicates that a manual control of engine shutdown is required and must be independent of the on-board automated control of the trajectory of the aircraft. This is valid for all S-2 design certification requests made after this date. On the other hand, all devices and types of devices approved before that date can continue to circulate.

Mandatory skills

All telepilots must have a certificate of theoretical aptitude for an inhabited aircraft pilot since 1 July 2018.


Flight height

The maximum flight height for remotely piloted aircraft is 150 m above ground level, unless special permission has been given. For non-direct drone flights, the prescribed height is 50 m.


Security rules

All flying devices present a crash risk and can be dangerous. That is why the DGAC provides very strict rules to ensure the safety of their use.
First of all, it is necessary to establish a security perimeter on the ground so that the drone remains distant from all the people outside the mission. On the other hand, it should be known that flying over third parties is only possible outside remote agglomerations of people gatherings for drones under 2kg. All flights in built-up areas must be declared beforehand to the prefecture concerned. For drones weighing more than 2 kg, a device must be put in place to limit impact energy in the event of a crash such as a parachute.