As of 1 February of 2018, new rules promulgated by the Swedish Transport Agency will apply to drones. The most significant changes are that all drones weighing less than 150 kilos will be covered by the rules. It will therefore no longer matter if the purpose of the flight is private or commercial. Drones used for special activities – military, customs, police, search and rescue, fire fighting, coast guard and accident investigation – will be exempted from the new rules. For these activities, special conditions apply instead. The license requirement for drones weighing less than 7 kilograms and flying within sight will be removed. Carl Svernlöv outlines the other changes introduced by the new regulations below.

The construction, manufacturing, modification, maintenance and of civil unmanned aircraft are regulated in Sweden by the Swedish Transport Agency’s Regulation (TSFS 2009:88) on unmanned aircraft – UAS (as amended by TSFS 2013:27 and TSFS 2014:45). This regulation will as per 1 February 2018 be replaced by new Regulations (TSFS 2017:110) on unmanned aircraft (Sw. Transportstyrelsens föreskrifter om obemannade luftfartyg).  Drones with an operational mass exceeding 150 kg and which will likely be subject to serial manufacturing will continue to be regulated by Regulation (EC) no 216/2008. Permission for these is applied for at the European aviation authority EASA. Moreover, Regulation (EU) 923/2012 and the Swedish Transport Agency’s Regulation (TSFS 2014:71) and general guidelines for aviation (as amended by TSFS 2014:94), along with the Swedish Aviation Act (2010:500) and Aviation Ordinance (2010:770) generally regulating aviation in Sweden, also apply to drones.

In addition to the news described above, the most significant changes are as follows. The maximum flying altitude for most drones will be 120 meters (400 ft) above ground in uncontrolled air. Drones weighing less than 7 kilograms and flying at a ground speed of 90 km/h or less may fly in an airport control zone without permission, provided that they remain at least 5 kilometers from the runway and below 10 meters (or in some cases 50 meters) above ground. Drones may not fly closer than 1 kilometer from a heliport without prior contact with the heliport. All drones must have a label with the owner’s name and contact information. Indoor flight will not be covered by the new rules. There will be simplified requirements when flying in the dark, along with a simplified license procedure for drones weighing 7-25 kilograms which will be flown within the line of sight.

Other news is that model flying clubs (associations) will be able to continue flying according to their own statutes, after approval by the Transport Agency. There will be new types of license categories for special types of flights, such as flight out of sight and high altitude. The time limit on most licenses will be abolished. Finally, there will be some changes regarding minimum separation.