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Summary

 

In Poland the operation of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes requires the pilot to obtain a certificate of competence. Systems weighing more than 25 kg must be certified and registered. Operation in the proximity of airports and other special zones is restricted. Flights below the visual line of sight of the operator are possible only in dedicated areas.

I. Legal Framework

The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Polish airspace is regulated by the Aviation Law Act [1] and the following implementing regulations issued by the Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy:

  • Regulation of March 26, 2013, on the Exclusion of Some Provisions of the Aviation Law Act for Certain Types of Aircraft and Determining the Conditions and Requirements Relating to the Use of Such Aircraft,[2] which sets out the rules for operation of UAS weighing less than 25 kg.

  • Regulation of June 3, 2013, on Certificates of Competency [3] applicable to the operators of UAS.

  • Regulation of April 26, 2013, on the Technical and Operational Rules on Aircraft of Special Category, Not Subject to the Supervision of the European Aviation Safety Agency, [4] which mostly applies to UAS weighing more than 25 kg.

Polish regulations do not address the issue of personal data protection and privacy concerning the use of UAS; however, flights above another person’s property may constitute an infringement of personal rights. [5]

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II. Certification of Operators

Polish law differentiates between commercial and noncommercial use of UAS flights. Operators of commercial UAS flights, including providers of photography and video-making services, must have a certificate of competency from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is issued to individuals who have passed a medical check-up, taken theoretical and practical tests, and have insurance. [6]

The certificate of competency can allow for operation in VLOS (visual line of sight) or BVLOS (below visual line of sight) conditions. Obtaining a VLOS operation certificate requires the applicant to sign a declaration of knowledge of relevant regulations and basic theory (airspace, emergencies, flight rules, etc.), and pass theoretical and practical tests conducted by a CAA examiner. A certificate of competency for BVLOS operation allows a pilot to fly beyond the line of sight and requires the applicant to take training courses in addition to successfully passing theoretical and practical tests. [7]

The certificate of competency can be limited to certain weight ranges (from less than 2 kg to less than 150 kg) and classes of UAS (airplane, helicopter, airship, or multirotor). [8] As of October 2015 more than 1,500 certificates of competency had been issued. [9]

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III. Registration of UAS

Registration is not required for UAS weighing less than 25 kg. If the weight exceeds 25 kg a permit to fly is required and operational restrictions may be applicable (e.g., VLOS only and/or minimum distance from populated areas, people, and property).

Moreover, telecommunications law requires a license if the UAS uses certain frequencies for communication, although most UAS use frequencies that do not require a license.[10]

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IV. Operational Restrictions

Operation in VLOS mode must allow the remote pilot to maintain separation and avoid collision with any other aircraft. Flights must be conducted outside the controlled zones (which sometimes cover most of a town or a city [11]), airfield traffic zones, military airport zones, and other specific zones. [12] Advance notice and a special permit are required to operate a UAS in an airport controlled zone. [13] For flights in airport traffic zones or within 5 km of an airport/airfield border, the permission of the airport manager is required. [14]

Currently, BVLOS flights are possible only in dedicated and segregated airspace. [15] The rules for BVLOS operations, including the procedures for cooperation with air traffic service providers, are being developed by the CAA. [16]

Regulations require that the horizontal distance from people and structures on the surface must be sufficient to exclude any risk to people, property, or the environment, even after any possible failure. Moreover, operations in the city center of Warsaw require the consent of the Government Protection Bureau.[17] Following an incident in Warsaw’s airport the authorities announced they were considering installing equipment that would disable UAS in the proximity of the airport.[18]

Penalties for failing to comply with these restrictions are set out in the Aviation Law Act and provide for up to five years of imprisonment. [19]

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Prepared by Nerses Isajanyan
Foreign Law Consultant
April 2016


[1] Ustawa z dnia 3 lipca 2002 r. Prawo lotnicze [Law of July 3, 2002, Aviation Law], Dziennik Ustaw Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej [DURP] [Official Gazette of the Polish Republic], Aug. 16, 2002, No. 130/2002, item 1112, available athttp://dziennikustaw.gov.pl/DU/2002/1112/1 (in Polish), archived at https://perma.cc/DRN6 -492P.

[2] Regulation of the Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy of March 26, 2013, DURP, Apr. 10, 2013, item 440, available athttp://dziennikustaw.gov.pl/DU/2013/440 (in Polish), archived at https://perma.cc/ R576-G8C8.

[3] Regulation of the Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy of June 3, 2013, DURP, June 7, 2013, item 664, available athttp://www.dziennikustaw.gov.pl/DU/2013/664/1 (in Polish), archived at https://perma. cc/39L9-K9CD.

[4] Regulation of the Minister of Transport, Construction and Maritime Economy of April 26, 2013, DURP, May 2, 2013, item 524, available athttp://www.dziennikustaw.gov.pl/DU/2013/524/1 (in Polish), archived at https://perma. cc/E6S8-XMP9.

[5] Drones – Will the Law Allow Them to Crowd the Sky? , CMS-Law-Now (Sept. 22, 2015), http://www.cms-lawnow.com/ealerts/2015/09/drones--will-the-law-allow-them-to-crowd-the-sky?cc_lang=en , archived at https://perma.cc/K59V-6G7Y.

[7] CAA, Current Status of RPAS Regulations in the Republic of Poland 2 (Oct. 2014), http://jarus-rpas.org/ sites/jarus-rpas.org/files/current_status_of_rpa_regulations.pdf , archived at https://perma.cc/G6ZA-PA3Q.

[8] Id .

[9] CAA, supra note 6.

[10] CMS-Law-Now, supra note 5.

[11] Id.

[12] CAA, supra note 6.

[13] Id .

[14] Id .

[15] Id.

[16] CAA, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in Poland (July 2013), available athttp://jarus-rpas.org/ sites/jarus-rpas.org/files/rpas_poland.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/5LJ4-X2AC.

[17] CAA, supra note 6.

[18] CMS-Law-Now, supra note 5.

[19] Ustawa z dnia 3 lipca 2002 r. Prawo lotnicze art. 212.

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Last Updated: 07/22/2016