Contribution by the Swiss Aeromodelling Federation (SMV), last updated on 25/11/2022
Switzerland will apply the EU rules for unmanned aircraft as of 1 January 2023. The Swiss Aeromodelling Federation has obtained important privileges for aeromodellers, as a result of which the requirements for flying model aircraft remain largely unchanged. The privileges are available to members of the Swiss Aeromodelling Ferderation. Non-members can benefit from the same privileges if they carry a declaration that they are familiar with and will respect the SMV Code of Good Practice.
Under the Swiss rules for the operation of model aircraft, aircraft lighter than 30kgs may be flown without a permit within visual line of sight. For aircraft heavier than 250gr a permit is required for flights within a 5km range around airports and heliports, for flights higher than 150m above surface in air traffic control zones or flights within 100m or above emergency response and assemblies of people. To operate a model heavier than 250gr, each operator is required to have a personal liability insurance with a minimum coverage of CHF 1 million and must carry proof of insurance.
The minimum age for operating a model aircraft without adult supervision in Switzerland is 5 years. There is no registration requirement for model aircraft pilots.
To operate a model aircraft heavier than 250gr, each operator is required to have a liability insurance that covers incidents with a minimum coverage of CHF 1 million and must carry proof of insurance. A number of household liability insurances include this in their standard coverage and will be able to provide proof of insurance. Members of the Swiss Aeromodelling Federation (SMV) are automatically insured through the SMV.
No permit is required for the operation within visual line of sight of model aircraft lighter than 30kgs. The operation of aircraft heavier than this, or outside visual line of sight, requires a permit from the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation. For aircraft heavier than 250gr a permit is required for flights within a 5km range around airports and heliports, as well as higher than 150m above surface in air traffic control zones.
A permit is required for the operation of model aircraft between 500gr and 30kgs within visual line of sight in the following areas:
- within a 5km range around airports and heliports;
- higher than 150m above surface in air traffic control zones (CTR);
- near emergency response efforts or over or within 100m from groups of people.
In addition, the operation of all unmanned aircraft is not allowed within protected areas (e.g. nature reserves) and the use of cameras or recording equipment must respect privacy rules (i.e. don’t fly over inhabited areas). There may also be temporary or local restrictions for the operations of all unmanned aircraft.
A map with current flight restrictions can be consulted here.
Pilots visiting Switzerland need to comply with the same rules as Swiss residents, including also the requirement to have a personal liability insurance with a minimum coverage of CHF 1 million, and the requirement to carry proof of this insurance. Visiting pilots who are not a member of the SMV should carry a declaration that they know and will respect the SMV Code of Good Practice. Information for visiting pilots is available on the website of the Swiss Aeromodelling Federation. As of 1 January 2023 the Swiss UAS operator registration is recognised throughout the EU. This also means that pilots resident in Switzerland that wish to fly in an EU Member State and who require an EU recognised operator registration must register in Switzerland.
The main association for model aircraft pilots is the Swiss Aeromodelling Federation (SMV) (https://www.modellflug.ch). The SMV is a division of the Swiss Aero-Club (https://www.aeroclub.ch). With around 8000 members in 186 model flying clubs, the SMV represents the interests of model pilots and clubs at national level vis-à-vis authorities, regulators and institutions. The SMV is organised in seven regional model flying association. Members of the regional model flying associations are the model flying clubs of the respective region. The SMV offers comprehensive liability insurance for its members.
Further information and useful links
- Swiss Aeromodelling Federation (SMV): https://www.modellflug.ch
- Page on the latest regulatory developments: https://www.modellflug.ch/DE/cont/20
- List of model aircraft clubs (SMV members): https://www.modellflug.ch/flugplatzuebersicht.aspx?Region=0&lang=DE&contid=130
- Swiss Aero-Club: https://www.aeroclub.ch/
- Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation homepage on unmanned aircraft: https://www.bazl.admin.ch/bazl/de/home/gutzuwissen/drohnen-und-flugmodelle/allgemeine-fragen-zu-drohnen.html
- Map with flight restrictions in Switzerland: https://www.bazl.admin.ch/bazl/en/home/drohnen/drones-and-aircraft-models/drohnenkarte.html