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#DroneStrategy What should you know to fly in Switzerland
6295 26 2019-4-29
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o_laparoto
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Portugal
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After the receiving a couple of comments on my #DroneStrategy for Portugal post, I decided I should also share for another country I visited and dug up all this information in advance.


Disclaimer: As laws and rules may change and may not be available in English I may not update this post fast enough. I don't take any responsibility for anything written here.  You are the only one responsible for your actions  and you  are the one who must check the (updated) rules, the laws and  the context  (always use common sense) before flying your drone. So, go  and check  the official links and ask more questions to the authorities  if you are  unsure about something.  


Location: Zurich, Winterthur, Baden, Geneva - Switzerland
Time: July 2017 to April 2019
Drones: DJI Spark
Instagram: @o_laparoto

As per usual, here are my personal recommendations:


  • You must know how to fly safely and do it under supervision of an adult if you are under 18.

  • Do not put others at risk or disturb them.

  • The dissemination of images of people or private spaces requires proper authorisations.

  • You are responsible for any damage caused by your drone. You are advised to apply for a third-party insurance.

  • Inspect your drone before and after each flight, check the entire frame for cracks including the landing gear and props.

  • Make sure you have sufficient GPS signal  and wait for the "Home Point Recorded" message to avoid a fly away and  do not forget to set adequate RTH altitude for a safe return to home.

  • If you see a figure of authority, police,  fireman, lifeguard etc approach them and ask if there is any special  event going on in the area or if you are allowed to fly. Preventing any  temporary ban,

  • Always keep the drone in sight in a radius of 500m

  • Don't fly near airports, airfields atc.

  • Daytime flying with appropriate meteorological conditions (no fog, rain or wind)

  • Night-time flying with appropriate  meteorological conditions (no fog, rain or wind) with a drone of up to  2kg and going no  higher than 50m.- When flying with FPV goggles, you must be accompanied by an observer.

  • Do not exceed a height of 120m (400feet)  and or on the highest obstacle located within a radius of 150 m from the  RPA- Never fly over sensible areas like prisons, military zone, etc.

  • My checklist before every flight:

    • Is the wind good enough for a safe flight? Check the wind before leaving home and onsite. If the wind is strong your drone may fly away or even crash.
    • Is the drone in good conditions? Have you crashed before? You may have to reset/re-calibrate it before attempting  another flight. Fix it and perform a test, don't  just try to fly it after a crash or it might happen again.
    • Risks analysis: what can go wrong? If you  see trees nearby, or a big building the answer could be "1) possible  crash in the trees if I fly too close to them 2) possible loss of signal  if the drone goes behind the building". If I see more then 20 people I  change location or fly 100m away from them as precaution.
    • Are all the transmitter switches in the proper initial positions?  I think one of my first crashes happened because I took off the drone  with in a different mode than the one I wanted. The wind did the rest...
    Create your own checklist.

  • Don’t fly without authorisation:
    - Over buildings and people
    - At night
    - In controlled airspace, or in close proximity to aerodromes and heliports, adhering to the distances established by law.
    - In emergencies without being instructed by the public authority

Switzerland is very similar to most countries throughout the  world, it might be complicated to fly your drone in major cities, in many cities you can fly under  strict rules like distance and height limits, etc.
Outside of cities drones are normally accepted,  provided you show respect for the area your flying in, asking for  permission if your not sure if it’s ok to fly.
If you offer to show what your doing or maybe even share some photos/videos, I'm sure you will be making some new friends.
Showing respect for people and property will only make your life easier.


Customs: There is no specific rules to take your DJI drone through customs in Switzerland. You don't even have to take it out of your bag.

Application Process:




Since the drones section on the English FOCA website is incomplete (what the foca?) here is a quick summary of the most important points for you:

  • You must always have line of sight (LOS) with your drone.

  • You need a permission for FPV glasses, unless you  (pilot) use them in the LOS area and you have somebody (operator)  checking the drone and being able to interrupt/control it as well in  case of need. Pilot and operator must be in the same place.

  • Auto-pilot/autonomous flights are allowed (e.g. missions planned with the Litchi App), but only if you can in any moment take control of the drone.

  • Taking videos/photos is allowed. The same privacy rules apply as for other cameras.

  • You can fly over groups not exceeding 23 people*. From 24 and more people: flying over them is forbidden, but at a distance of 100m away it's allowed, or you can ask a permission to FOCA.

  • If your drone weight (including the battery) is more than 500g, you need a liability insurance to cover up to 1 million CHF in damages and a certificate from your insurance with you when operating the aircraft, which the police might ask you to provide.

  • It's forbidden to fly within 5km from airport or helipd runways, unless you got a permission from the air traffic control/aerodrome operator. Check the Swiss map with drone restrictions
  • Cantons and towns/municipalities may restrict even more the rules listed above. So make sure to check the local laws as well.

  • Most natural reserves are protected and it's forbidden to fly a drone, because the noise can disturb animals. If you see a sign "Naturschutz" please avoid flying a drone there. Websites of such places also indicate if flying drones is forbidden.


Summary from FOCA regarding Swiss Laws, which seems easier to read than the legislation: (Thanks @RA PHI)
https://www.bazl.admin.ch/bazl/en/home/good-to-know/drones-and-aircraft-models/allgemeine-fragen-zu-drohnen.html

I sincerely hope this information has been of good use to you during your visit to Switzerland.



Here is one of my videos flying in Zurich:




2019-4-29
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jacksonnai
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Malaysia
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Great information, nice entry
2019-4-29
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A J
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Flight distance : 12298924 ft
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United Kingdom
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Excellent info
2019-4-29
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maddox
Captain
Malaysia
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Great information, thanks for sharing
2019-4-29
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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jacksonnai Posted at 4-29 06:52
Great information, nice entry

Thank you jacksonnai
2019-5-1
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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Thanks A J, hopefully we can gather information from a lot of cool places to visit.
2019-5-1
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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maddox Posted at 4-29 18:24
Great information, thanks for sharing

My pleasure maddox! Just spreading the information I collected.
2019-5-1
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A J
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o_laparoto Posted at 5-1 04:53
Thanks A J, hopefully we can gather information from a lot of cool places to visit.

It is great to see so many taking things seriously
2019-5-1
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maddox
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o_laparoto Posted at 5-1 04:54
My pleasure maddox! Just spreading the information I collected.

You're welcome
2019-5-1
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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A J Posted at 5-1 05:07
It is great to see so many taking things seriously

A J, it bothers me to meet people that fly drones with no guidance or knowledge of rules or what so ever.
2019-5-2
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A J
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o_laparoto Posted at 5-2 01:48
A J, it bothers me to meet people that fly drones with no guidance or knowledge of rules or what so ever.

Agreed - it only leads to more legislation and regulations
2019-5-2
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jacksonnai
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o_laparoto Posted at 5-1 04:53
Thank you jacksonnai

You're welcome mate
2019-5-2
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G37 Mavic Pro
Second Officer
Flight distance : 39659 ft
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Thanks for sharing
2019-7-31
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jameswdj96
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United States
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Great information
2019-7-31
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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Just trying to keep everyone safe jameswdj96
2019-8-5
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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Appreciate your comment G37 Mavic Pro
2019-8-5
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DJI Tony
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Hi, we do appreciate sharing this informative thread to our valued DJI Forum members. Nice work! Cheers!
2019-8-6
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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DJI Tony Posted at 8-6 10:09
Hi, we do appreciate sharing this informative thread to our valued DJI Forum members. Nice work! Cheers!

Thanks DJI Tony for taking the time to comment.
2019-8-6
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DJI Tony
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o_laparoto Posted at 8-6 15:41
Thanks DJI Tony for taking the time to comment.

It's my pleasure! We're looking forward to your next work.
2019-8-7
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Ra Phi
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Switzerland
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Great list but it is slightly incorrect. You are allowed to fly up to 150m within control zones around airports (but no flying withing 5km around an airport, that's correct) and as far as I can tell there is no limit to how high you can fly outside of control zones. While I'd still advise to never fly higher than 150m, technically there is no law in Switzerland prohibiting you to do so other than the requirement to always have eye contact with the drone (which above 150m is probably no longer the case with an Mavic Air for example).

I also would be interested to know where you get the specification from regarding what counts as a group of people (you said 24), because the legislation only states that you are not allowed to fly closer than 100m from groups of people - but what a group exactly is, is not specified. There is however a side note that you can get request a standard permit for private events like weddings.

Another clarification: you don't only need to have liability insurance covering 1mio Swiss Francs, you actually need to have a certificate from your insurance with you when operating the aircraft, which the police might ask you to provide.

This is the original text from the legislation:
https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classified-compilation/19940351/index.html#a17

Any person who flies a model aircraft weighing up to 30 kg must always maintain direct eye contact with the aircraft and must be able to steer it at all times.2

2 Flying model aircraft weighing between 0.5 and 30 kg is prohibited:

a.
    within a distance of 5 km from the runways of any civil or military aerodrome;
b.3
    in active CTRs, if the aircraft may exceed an altitude of 150 m above the ground;
c.4
    within a radius of 100 metres from groups of people in the open, unless the flight takes place at a public air show under Article 4.

https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classified-compilation/19940351/index.html#a20
Third party liability claims made by third parties on the ground must be covered by the proprietor in a third party liability insurance policy with guaranteed cover of at least one million francs.

The third party liability insurance certificate must be carried when the aircraft are in operation.

Lastly, there are various sources that claim that the BAZL is working on new legislation which might be released in the mid of 2020, one of the major changes will be that you actually need to be a registered pilot and register your drone. If and when this will be released is uncertain but it's worth checking regularely the latest legislation from BAZL.
2019-8-11
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Ra Phi
lvl.4
Switzerland
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(Can't edit my previous post, sorry for double posting).

This is a summary from FOCA regarding Swiss Laws, it's easier to read than the legislation:
https://www.bazl.admin.ch/bazl/en/home/good-to-know/drones-and-aircraft-models/allgemeine-fragen-zu-drohnen.html
2019-8-11
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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Ra Phi Posted at 8-11 01:19
Great list but it is slightly incorrect. You are allowed to fly up to 150m within control zones around airports (but no flying withing 5km around an airport, that's correct) and as far as I can tell there is no limit to how high you can fly outside of control zones. While I'd still advise to never fly higher than 150m, technically there is no law in Switzerland prohibiting you to do so other than the requirement to always have eye contact with the drone (which above 150m is probably no longer the case with an Mavic Air for example).

I also would be interested to know where you get the specification from regarding what counts as a group of people (you said 24), because the legislation only states that you are not allowed to fly closer than 100m from groups of people - but what a group exactly is, is not specified. There is however a side note that you can get request a standard permit for private events like weddings.

Thank you Ra Phi for your elucidating comment.

I've updated the original post with some of your information.
2019-8-12
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djiuser_pNEWSWzzB8VI
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Hi @o_laparoto Can you give any recommendations on how/where to get the liability insurance? I have scoured the internet for this information and am really struggling. There are a number of big Swiss providers but when I try to set it up they demand I have a Swiss address. There are also apps made for the US (my home country) that I have tried, like Verifly, but they don't support Switzerland.
2019-9-5
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o_laparoto
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djiuser_pNEWSWzzB8VI Posted at 9-5 06:25
Hi @o_laparoto Can you give any recommendations on how/where to get the liability insurance? I have scoured the internet for this information and am really struggling. There are a number of big Swiss providers but when I try to set it up they demand I have a Swiss address. There are also apps made for the US (my home country) that I have tried, like Verifly, but they don't support Switzerland.

Hi djiuser_pNEWSWzzB8VI,

To be honest I am not able to help you out there.

I can advise you to reach out to @ParideM as he wrote the post https://forum.dji.com/thread-185241-1-1.html of Switzerland which even got a prize.

Hope this helps.

Regards
2019-9-6
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bradpitcher
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Thanks, will do
2019-9-6
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Zubayer.Khan
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Flight distance : 509623 ft
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Thanks for the share.
4-19 04:12
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o_laparoto
Captain
Flight distance : 708471 ft
Portugal
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You are welcome bradpitcher
4-20 01:32
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