Each month, forty new drone operators land in France. According to the French civil aviation authority (DGAC) today there are a thousand authorized to operate drones, but not in all conditions. Since the publication of the decree of April 11th 2012, the use of civilian UAV’s in French airspace is strictly regulated.
Scenarios were developed by the DGAC based on several criteria such as the area flown (urban or uninhabited), visual contact of the operators with their drones (flights within sight and out of sight), altitude, and distance between the drone in flight and its operator.
A drone can be authorised for multiple scenarios, of which there are four in total. S1 (flight within view, excluding in populated areas, limited to 100 metres away from the pilot) and S3 (flight within view, in urban areas, limited to 100 metres away from the pilot) are the most common, and represent 90% of permits issued. The operator is in both cases, always in visual contact with the drone.
10% of permits relate to scenario S2 that allows drone operation up to one kilometre away from the pilot in uninhabited areas.
Finally for the more complex scenario S4, at present, only four drones are licensed by the French civil aviation authority to fly an unlimited distance away from their operators, although these are still limited to non-inhabited areas.
Faced with the growing market for civilian drones, new requirements for remote controlled training should also emerge soon. For now, these pilots must undergo theoretical training, but it is up to the operator to certify that they have the required practical level.
To solve this problem, the French professional federation of civil drones submitted a report to this effect to the DGAC last February. A meeting is scheduled on the issue this coming 28th October.