Rules for the operation of model aircraft in Switzerland (as of January 1, 2023)
As of 1 January 2023, Switzerland applies the EU rules for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The Swiss Aeromodelling Association (SMV) was able to negotiate far-reaching privileges for the operation of model aircraft. As a result, there are no major changes compared to the previous rules. There is no registration obligation for model aircraft pilots flying their model in Switzerland. Neither are there any new altitude restrictions or obligatory training or certificate of competence requirements.
To whom do the privileges apply?
The privileges negotiated by the SMV apply to model aircraft flown within the framework of the SMV. This is the case if the model aircraft pilot:
- Is a member of the SMV; or
- commits in a declaration to comply with the SMV "Code of Good Practice": the short version can be downloaded here an the long version here.
Other pilots, as well as pilots of unmanned aircraft systems that are not model aircraft, must comply with the new EU regulations.
The requirements for model flying in Switzerland (as of January 1, 2023).
See also: https://www.bazl.admin.ch/bazl/en/home/drohnen/open/modellluftfahrzeuge.html
The following requirements must be met for the operation of a model aircraft in Switzerland:
- Model aircraft may not be operated in a negligent or intentionally risky manner in a way that endangers human life or property of third parties.
- Every operator of an unmanned aerial vehicle system heavier than 250g must have a liability insurance with a coverage of damages up to 1 million CHF, and carry the liability insurance certificate with him. Often these damages are covered by the household liability insurance. These insurances can issue a corresponding proof. Members of the SMV are automatically insured through the association.
- It is allowed to operate model aircrafts up to 30kg in direct line of sight. Models heavier than 30kg or flying outside direct line of sight require a permit from the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA).
- A permit is also required for flying model aircraft in direct line of sight with a weight between 250g and 30kg in the following cases:
- At a distance of less than 5km from an airfield, airfield or heliport;
- Higher than 150m above ground within the control zone of an airport (CTR);
- Within a radius of less than 100m around outdoor crowds (except on official flight shows or demonstrations).
- Temporary or local bans on unmanned aircraft operations must be observed. In addition, flying is not allowed in areas protected by the federal government (e.g. nature reserves). Further information on temporary or local prohibitions for all unmanned aircraft and an area map can be consulted here: https://www.bazl.admin.ch/bazl/en/home/drohnen/verstaendnishilfe/drohnenkarte.html
- Privacy must be respected when using cameras and other recording devices, i.e. flying over residential areas is not allowed.
- There is a minimum age for unsupervised model aircraft pilots of 5 years (minimum age supervisor 16 years).
The full text of the Swiss regulations for model aircraft can be found here (see Section 4)(unofficial translation)