A drone flies in the nature

Digital Platform for Unmanned Aviation

‘Open’ category

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

In addition, the following transitional arrangements apply in the Federal Republic of Germany for the operation of existing drones until 31 December 2023:

  1. UAS of up to 500 g may continue to be operated under the conditions of sub-category A1 without a drone licence.
  2. Pilots of UAS of up to 2 kg may operate their UAS at a distance from uninvolved persons of at least 50 m provided that they have the appropriate level of competency. This is the case if the remote pilot holds
    1. an EU certificate of remote pilot competency of category A2 or 
    2. a national certivicate of competency as well as an EU certificate of competency of category A1/A3 and has submitted a self-declaration on the completion of a practical self-study course as set out in point UAS.OPEN.030(2)(b).
    As an alternative, such UAS may be operated under the conditions of sub-category A3. Pilots who do not hold an EU certificate of competency must have a national certificate of competency by 31 December 2022 in accordance with section 21a(4) sentence 3 no. 2 of the old version of the German Rules of the Air Regulations (LuftVO) of 7 April 2017.
  3. UAS of more than 2 kg and less than 25 kg without a C classification may only be operated in sub-category A3. Pilots need an EU certificate of competency of category A1/A3 for operation. As an alternative, flight operations are permitted until 31 December 2022 on the basis of a national certificate of competency.

Sub-categories

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. Recognized test centres can be found here.

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 people, populated areas, recreational areas, industrial facilities etc. must be respected for operations in this category in accordance with the geographical zones. In order to qualify, the EU certificate of competency of category A1/A3 (online training and examination) must be completed.

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:

Sub-category

Class

MTOM

Restrictions

Qualifications

    A1    

C0
or privately built

< 250 g

  • No overflying of assemblies of people 
  • Overflying of uninvolved persons permitted

None

C1

< 900 g

  • No overflying of assemblies of people 
  • No overflying of uninvolved persons

EU certificate of competency

   A2   

C2

< 4 kg

  • No overflying of assemblies of people 
  • No overflying of uninvolved persons

EU remote pilot certificate

   A3   

C3, C4
or privately built

< 25 kg

  • Minimum distance of 150 m from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas
  • Risks to uninvolved persons must be ruled out

EU certificate of competency

 

The following chart also provides an overview of the requirements of the ‘open’ category and can help with the categorization of drone operations (Source: https://www.lba.de/DE/Drohnen/Allgemeine_Informationen/Risikobewertung.html?nn=2995260 German only).


Full risk assessment based on operation details

Based on Implementing Regulation 

Excerpt from a schematic diagram of risk assessment according to operating details in accordance with LBA-V1 on the basis of DVO (EU) 2019/947 (valid until December 31, 2022). A flow chart is shown in which multi-stage questions can be answered with "yes" and "no". This allows the applicable category to be determined. The risk of maximum personal injury increases with increasing category.


Drones are divided into drone categories based on the maximum take-off mass and the technical equipment. These categories allow quick conclusions to be drawn as to the classification into a corresponding sub-category. The categories C0 to C6 have been defined for this classification. Currently, there are no certified drones assigned to one of these categories. Therefore, the division of drones into technical categories is currently not yet relevant.

 Back to Categorizing drone operations