Contribution by the Federation Française Aéro Modélisme (FFAM)
In France model aircraft can be operated up to a maximum height of 150 meters above surface, except in restricted areas. Exemptions to this height limit can be given to registered model aircraft airfields managed by clubs or associations.
In October 2016, France adopted new legislation to address national security concerns. This legislation introduced a range of new requirements that apply to aeromodellers, including on training, registration as well as requiring a remote identification electronic device. Some exemptions to these requirements are in place for members of clubs affiliated to the Federation Française Aéro Modélisme (FFAM, the main French Aeromodelling Association) or L’Union Française des Oeuvres Laïques d’Education Physique (UFOLEP, the French multisport federation).
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There are no age restrictions for pilots operating in the framework of clubs affiliated to FFAM or UFOLEP. When operating outside this framework, pilots younger than 14 years must be accompanied by an adult who has passed training and an examination. All pilots older than 14 years must pass training and an examination.
Online training and examination are available on the National Civil Aviation Agency website (https://fox-alphatango.aviation-civile.gouv.fr). Every pilot must be able to show proof that he has followed the training and passed the examination. Training and examination are free of charge. It consists of a number of short videos and 20 questions and is available in French and in English. The examination is valid for 5 years. Pilots must be able to show their printed or electronic examination certificate. FFAM is authorized to deliver its own training course and examination for its licensed members. Training and examination can be also delivered during international sporting events and replaced by a briefing when pilots are flying in a competition on an official model aircraft airfield.
Model aircraft pilots operating in France must be covered by a proper third-party insurance. It is also highly recommended to have an individual accident insurance to cover his/her own injuries. For FFAM members, third-party and individual accident insurances are provided through their membership. FFAM requests its affiliated clubs to check whether visiting pilots on their airfield have a valid third-party insurance. They can refuse pilots to access their airfields without proof of such an insurance.
There is currently no registration requirement for model aircraft operators. Model aircraft weighing more than 800 gr must however be registered online (https://fox-alphatango.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/).
While it’s not mandatory to belong to a French club or association affiliated to FFAM or UFOLEP to fly in France, non-members will need to install a remote identification device in their aircraft from July 2020. This applies to flights both on and outside registered airfields. FFAM or UFOLEP members are exempted from this requirement for flights on registered airfields.
Model aircraft weighing more than 800 gr must be registered. Registration is free of charge on National Civil Aviation Agency (DGAC) website (https://fox-alphatango.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/). The aircraft’s registration number must be displayed on the aircraft, visible at 30 cm without any additional visual aid.
Every model aircraft with a take-off mass over 25 kg must be certified by on National Civil Aviation Agency (DGAC) before being operated in France.
From June 2020, a remote identification device will be mandatory for every model aircraft weighing more than 800gr. This will be connected with model aircraft registration. This requirement will apply to FFAM (or UFOLEP) members that fly outside officially registered model airfields. Non-members must also install such device for flights on registered model airfields. There is currently no information on the availability of such devices.
Areas with flight restrictions can be checked on the French government’s official website. Outside prohibited or restricted areas, flights are allowed up to a maximum height of 150 meters. Flights are prohibited in red areas, except on official model airfields (contact the local club or association).
Clubs and Associations
Currently, around 850 clubs are are affiliated to FFAM. A list of clubs can be found on FFAM website (http://www.ffam.asso.fr)
Further information and useful links
Federation Française Aéro Modélisme (FFAM): http://www.ffam.asso.fr
Direction générale de l’aviation civile (DGAC): https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr
Website for registration, training and examination: https://fox-alphatango.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/