The ‘open’ category is one of the three categories of operation. This category covers flights with drones which pose a low risk and therefore do not require authorization to operate. This category is particularly relevant for private drone pilots.
Current situation and use of existing drones
Existing drones, i.e. drones without a C classification as defined by Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and which were put on the market prior to 1 January 2024, can still be operated in sub-categories A1 and A3 of the ‘open’ category of operation as follows:
- Devices with a maximum permissible take-off mass (MTOM) of less than 250 g in sub-category A1
- Devices with an MTOM of less than 25 kg in sub-category A3
Within the ‘open’ category, another distinction is made with regard to the specifications of the drone and the area in which the drone mission is to take place. Drone operations in the ‘open’ category are subdivided into sub-categories A1, A2 and A3 for this purpose.
Sub-category A1 permits pilots who have participated in an online training course and have successfully completed an online examination to operate a UAS of up to 900 g. This sub-category permits overflying of individuals. If the UAS weighs less than 250 g and does not have a sensor able to capture personal data, the obligation to provide a certificate of competency is waived.
Sub-category A2 requires drones to be operated at a safe distance from people. However, this category allows drones with a maximum permissible take-off mass of up to 4 kg to be operated. In addition to the certificate of competency of category A1/A3, the remote pilot must undergo a practical course of self-training and a written theoretical test to obtain the EU remote pilot certificate. A list of recognized testing centers for taking the exam is provided by the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt.
Sub-category A3 allows drone flights with a take-off mass of up to 25 kg. However, a safety distance of at least 150 m from residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas must be respected for operations in this category in accordance with the geographical zones.
The horizontal distance to uninvolved persons is also at least:
- 30 m and
- not less than the height above ground (1:1 rule) and
- no less than the distance that the unmanned aircraft would cover in 2 seconds at maximum speed
In order to qualify, the EU certificate of competency of category A1/A3 (online training and examination) must be completed.
Die Unterkategorie A3 erlaubt Flüge mit Drohnen mit einem Startgewicht von bis zu 25 kg. Allerdings muss beim Betrieb in dieser Kategorie ein Sicherheitsabstand von mindestens 150 m zu besiedelten Wohngebieten, Gewerbegebieten, Industriegebieten und Erholungsgebieten im Rahmen der geografischen Gebiete eingehalten werden.
An overview of the three sub-categories and the respective requirements regarding the drone category, the planned flight operation and the qualification of the drone pilot can be found in the following table:
< 250 g
< 900 g
EU certificate of competency
< 4 kg
EU remote pilot certificate
C2, C3, C4
< 25 kg
EU certificate of competency