App recommendations for drone pilots in Germany
Drones with cameras open up completely new perspectives for photographers and video filmmakers. They give you insights that are otherwise reserved for birds. So it’s no wonder that aircraft are also becoming increasingly popular for home use. But this led to serious problems, as not everyone adhered to unwritten rules that should be taken for granted. There were frequent complaints from people who were secretly photographed or filmed and found these pictures on the net. The German legislative body reacted by issuing a new drone ordinance, which came into force on 7 April 2017.
The main provisions are set out in this infographics.
However, the new regulations lead to new ambiguities. Many drone pilots ask themselves the following questions: Where can I fly my drone? Where are there no-fly zones? Simply flying off is not recommended. In order to take off your aircraft, you need good flight preparation. And this is exactly what the following apps help you to do.
- I would like to start with the DFS DrohnenApp, which is available for free download for Android as well as for iPhone and iPad. It informs users about the rules and regulations for the use of drones in Germany and is based on information and maps from official sources. The app is very intuitive. The user selects his drone at the start. On the basis of this information (size, weight), the app then provides information on an interactive map as to whether (without special permission) and how high (e.g. in control zones) it is allowed to fly or not. A touch of the finger on the desired flight location is all it takes to immediately show whether take-off is permitted in easily understandable traffic light colours. When the app was launched almost two years ago, there were numerous complaints about its reliability. These teething troubles seem to have been solved in the meantime, so that I can definitely recommend the app.
- The second app I tested is called MAP2FLY, which is also available for free download at the Apple Store for iOS or at Google Play for Android. But somehow I don’t get quite warm with the app, while the online version of map2fly (https://map2fly.flynex.de) has a lot of information ready, which rules apply in the desired take-off areas and up to which altitude a take-off is allowed, the app version only shows no-fly areas. Too bad, I really would have expected more from the app. But I can only recommend the online version for flight preparation.
- My current favorite at the moment is the pilot app from Kopter-Profi GmbH, which is of course also available for Android as well as for iPhone and iPad for free download. It shows all relevant flight parameters like weather ( rainfall, wind, temperature), solar activity (KP index), the time of sunrise and sunset, or airspace restrictions. An intuitive traffic light system indicates when one or more parameters are in critical areas. Of course, the app also provides an interactive map on which you can select your flight location. In addition, the app lists contact persons of the state aviation authorities, extensions to the towers of German airports and airfields, telephone numbers of the nearest police stations. You can use the app to call them directly, for example to fly in control zones. There is only one catch. Only liability insurance customers of Kopter-Profi GmbH with an active, uncancelled insurance contract can use the app free of charge. Non-insurance customers can use the app with a test access for one week free of charge. After that, you can purchase the app for a fee in PlayStore or Appstore. I could not find out how high the costs are. The PlayStore displays in-app sales from €2.49 to €59.99 per item.