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Summary

Despite the widespread use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Ukraine, no active steps to regulate the use of drones have been taken. The only special rule applicable to drones is found in the Regulation on the Use of Airspace of Ukraine, which requires that those who use drones for aerial photography obtain special permission for UAV flights from the State Aerial Department and coordinate their flights with the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces. This is in keeping with the Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944, which Ukraine joined in 1992. Apart from this rule, the general aviation regulation regime is applicable to UAV operations.

I. Introduction

The Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry is relatively young. Serious research in the field of drones started in the country in the early 2000s.[1] Presently, about thirty variations of domestically manufactured UAVs are available for commercial use in Ukraine. [2] In 2015 about 1,500 drones were reportedly being used for commercial purposes in the country. [3]

A remote vehicle pilot training program was started in Ukraine in August 2014. Its curriculum was designed to provide future drone pilots a general theoretical knowledge in the design, function, and operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as well as practical skills for piloting a UAV with the active use of an autopilot. This program complies with the pilot training program of piloted aircraft and is approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of Ukraine. It is also coordinated with other programs of domestic and foreign organizations dealing with UAV pilot training. [4] In 2016, Ukraine began manufacturing its own military drones. [5]

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II. Legislation on UAV

A. Legal Framework

The legal status of drones is not specifically determined by Ukrainian law. Instead, general aviation regulations are applicable to UAV operations. [6] The main legal acts regulating air traffic and the use of air space and aerial vehicles are the following:

  • The Air Code of Ukraine, [7] a national law that establishes all major norms concerning the use of the airspace of Ukraine.

  • The Rules of Civil Aircraft Registration in Ukraine, [8] which defines the procedure and requirements for maintaining the State Registry of Civil Aircraft of Ukraine and rules for registration and re-registration of new, modified, and repaired aircraft in the possession of legal entities and persons resident in Ukraine.

  • The Regulation on Use of the Airspace of Ukraine, [9] which establishes procedures for using airspace by legal and physical persons, and defines the functions of the airspace and air traffic control authorities.

  • The Rules of Civil Aircraft Flights in the Airspace of Ukraine, [10] which provides general regulation of flights and the maneuvering of aircraft, including in the classified air space of Ukraine and the airspace over the high seas, where the responsibility for air traffic control services is assigned to Ukraine by international agreements.

B. Definition of UAV

According to the Air Code of Ukraine the term “unmanned aerial vehicle” is defined as any aircraft intended to fly without a pilot on board. The flight and control of such vehicles are performed by a special control station not located onboard the vehicle. [11] The Rules of Civil Aircraft Registration state that UAV include unmanned, untethered balloons and remotely piloted aircraft. [12]

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III. Registration of UAV

The Rules of Civil Aircraft Registration provide that an aircraft must be included in the State Registry of Civil Aircraft of Ukraine if it is owned by a legal entity incorporated in Ukraine or a natural person resident in Ukraine, or rented or leased by a Ukrainian operator from the nonresident owner. [13] Unmanned, untethered balloons without a payload and remotely piloted aircraft having a maximum take-off weight not exceeding 44 lb (20 kg) that are used for entertainment and sports activities are not subject to registration in the State Registry. [14] The Air Code states that these types of unregistered aircraft must be governed by rules established by professional organizations regulating this type of activity. [15]

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IV. Air Navigation Restrictions

The Regulations on the Use of Airspace of Ukraine [16] and the Rules of Civil Aircraft Flights in the Airspace of Ukraine [17] do not mention drones specifically, but all rules applicable to piloted aircraft apply to UAVs if they are subject to aircraft registration.

The only special rule applicable to drones was found in paragraph 74 of the Regulation on the Use of Airspace of Ukraine, which requires that those who use drones for aerial photography obtain special permission for UAV flights from the State Aerial Department and coordinate their flights with the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces.[18] This requirement appears to be in compliance with the Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944, which states that

[n]o aircraft capable of being flown without a pilot shall be flown without a pilot over the territory of a contracting State without special authorization by that State and in accordance with the terms of such authorization. Each contracting State undertakes to insure that the flight of such aircraft without a pilot in regions open to civil aircraft shall be so controlled as to obviate danger to civil aircraft. [19]

Ukraine joined the Convention in 1992. [20]

The Ukrainian State Air Traffic Service Enterprise (UkSATSE), a government institution responsible for providing air traffic control across Ukrainian airspace and over the Black Sea, provides airspace management, air traffic flow management, en route meteorological services for air navigation, and preflight information services. [21] UkSATSE is responsible for designating and reserving airspace where unmanned flights can be performed. Requests from drone users are to be submitted to UkSATSE. [22]

While current Ukrainian legislation does not regulate the use of drones specifically, the Air Code of Ukraine and the Rules of Civil Aircraft Registration mention UAVs among civil and commercial aircraft. This means that rules and air navigation restrictions apply to all users of the airspace, including drone operators.[23]

Civil aircraft are not allowed to fly over the following areas:

  • Special Use Airspace – areas established along the border.

  • Restricted Areas –a part of the airspace where flights of aircraft are prohibited for the purpose of protecting important government buildings and key industrial sites (e.g., nuclear power plants, chemical enterprises, etc.).

  • Flight Restriction Zones – parts of the airspace over land or territorial waters that are limited to aircraft flights during specific time periods due to military exercises, rocket launches, research, or controlled explosions.

  • Danger Zones – parts of the airspace where, during a specified period of time, activities dangerous to air traffic occur.

  • Temporarily Reserved Airspace – airspace where air traffic is not allowed within a specified time because of a threat to regular aviation flights or for other reasons.

  • Areas with a Special Airspace Use Regime – a 15.5 mile (25 kilometer)-wide part of the airspace along the Ukrainian state border where a special procedure for flight operations and control is established by the Ukrainian Air Force. [24]

Operators of UAVs are subject to the same liability rules as other air traffic operators. [25] Drone operators may be held criminally liable under the Criminal Code of Ukraine for creating a danger to human life or causing other conditions that threaten the safety of air flights.[26]

Violations of the rules related to the safety of aircraft flights by persons other than air transport workers are punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to three years if they expose human lives to danger or cause a risk of any other grave consequences. In cases of injury, death, or other serious consequences, violations of air traffic rules are punishable by imprisonment from five to twelve years. [27] The same punishment is prescribed for violations of rules related to the use of airspace, including the unlawful launch of a drone. [28]

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Prepared by Olena Yatsunska-Poff
Foreign Law Consultant
April 2016


[1] Research and Development Center of Unmanned Aviation “Virage , National Aviation University, Center of Unmanned Aviation,http://uav.nau.edu.ua/history.html (in Russian; last visited Apr. 11, 2016), archived at https://perma.cc/FBL9-DNHU.

[2] National Aviation University, Research and Development Center of Unmanned Aviation “Virage” of the National Aviation University Designed a Number of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, http://i2msystems. com/documents/UAS_capabilities.pdf (last visited Apr. 11, 2016), archived at https://perma.cc/HV2K-JV6Z.

[3] Victoria Pokatis, Vne Zakona: Pochemy Rynok Bespilotnikov v Ukraine est, a Zakonodatelstva pod nikh net [ Outside the Law: Why Do We Have a Drone Market in Ukraine and No Relevant Legislation], Delo.ua (May 19, 2015), http://delo.ua/business/vne-zakona-pochemu-rynok-becpilotnikov-v-ukraine-est-a-zakonod-296812/? supdated_new=1459644911 (in Russian), archived at https://perma.cc/W2XN-TYY3.

[4] National Aviation University, supra note 1.

[5] Ukraine Will Manufacture Its Own Military Drones – Turchynov , Euromaidan Press (Jan. 27, 2016), http://euromaidanpress.com/2016/01/27/ukraine-begins-manufacturing-military-drones , archived at https://perma.cc/XHK7-U73X.

[6] V. M. Borovenko, Povitriane Sudno [Aircraft], in Velykyii Entsiklopedychnyi Iurydychnyi Slovnik [Great Encyclopedic Legal Dictionary] 655 (Yuri Shemshuchenko ed., Kyiv, 2012) (in Ukrainian).

[7] Air Code of Ukraine, Law No. 3393-VI of May 19, 2011, with the Latest Amendments of Dec. 23, 2015,http://zakon3.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/3393-17 (in Ukrainian), archived at https://perma.cc/BF9F-CM7W.

[8] Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Resolution No. 636, Oct. 25, 2012, on Approval of Aviation Regulation in Ukraine, Part 47 on Rules of Civil Aircraft Registration in Ukraine, http://zakon3.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/z1926-12 (in Ukrainian), archived at https://perma.cc/P29U-XHJS.

[9] Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Regulation No. 401 of March 29, 2002, on Use of Airspace of Ukraine, with the Latest Amendments of June 4, 2014,http://zakon2.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/401-2002-%D0%BF (in Ukrainian), archived at https://perma.cc/6DSD-PA4B.

[10] Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Resolution No. 478, Oct. 28, 2011, on Approval of Rules of Civil Aircraft Flights in the Airspace of Ukraine, with the Latest Amendments of July 11, 2013,http://zakon5.rada.gov.ua/laws/ show/z1327-11 (in Ukrainian), archived at https://perma.cc/3HWQ-5QMN.

[11] Air Code of Ukraine art. 1.23.

[12] Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Resolution No. 636, art. 1.3.

[13] Id . art. 3.1.1.

[14] Id . art. 2.15.

[15] Air Code of Ukraine art. 39.8.4.

[16] Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Regulation No. 401.

[17] Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Resolution No. 478.

[18] Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Regulation No. 401, para. 74.

[19] Id . art. 8.

[20] Convention on International Civil Aviation, Dec. 7, 1944, 15 U.N.T.S. 295, https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/ UNTS/Volume%2015/volume-15-II-102-English.pdf , archived at https://perma.cc/7FPV-ZCF7, Ukrainian translation available athttp://zakon2.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/995_038, archived at https://perma.cc/H8QQ-ML3L.

[21] Ukrainian State Air Traffic Service Enterprise (UkSATSE) , CAPA, Center for Aviation, http://centrefor aviation.com/profiles/air-traffic-management/ukrainian-state-air-traffic-service-enterprise-uksatse (last visited Apr. 11, 2016), archived at https://perma.cc/T53T-MTAW.

[22] Sogodni v Ukraerorisi Obgovoryly Problemu Zakonodavchogo Vreguliuvannia Polotiv Bezpilotnykh Povitrianykh Suden v Ukraine [Today UkSATSE Discussed Problem of Legislative Regulation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Flights in Ukraine], Ukrainian State Air Traffic Service Enterprise (May 18, 2015), http://uksatse.ua/index. php?s=e4dfc02bb78ef51cfebc3e751801ea2f&act=Part&CODE=247&id=314 (official website, in Ukrainian), archived at https://perma.cc/GE6S-SAG5.

[23] V.V. Luts, Povitrianne Porstranstvo [Air Space], in Velykyii Entsiklopedychnyi Iurydychnyi Slovnik [Great Encyclopedic Legal Dictionary] 654 (Yuri Shemshuchenko ed., Kyiv, 2012) (in Ukrainian).

[24] Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, Regulation No. 401, para. 2.

[25] 2 Kryminalnyi Kodeks Ukrainy. Naukovo-Praktychnyi Komentar [Scholarly and Practical Commentaries on the Criminal Code of Ukraine] 551 (V.Ia. Tatsii & V.P. Pshonka eds., Kharkiv, 2013) (in Ukrainian).

[26] Criminal Code of Ukraine, Law No. 2341-III of Apr. 5, 2001, with the Latest Amendments of Nov. 26, 2015,http://zakon3.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2341-14/page9 (in Ukrainian), archived at https://perma.cc/4WL5-5FTY.

[27] Id. art. 281.

[28] Id. art. 282; see also 2 Kryminalnyi Kodeks Ukrainy, supra note 25, at 552.

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Last Updated: 07/22/2016