Flights other than recreational or sports flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS)
Operational, specialized, automatic and training flights performed in BVLOS operations
If you are flying an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for purposes other than recreation or sport (e.g. you run a business using UAV or you use it as part of your job) and you plan to use it in BVLOS operations, you have rules that you must follow as a UAV operator. This article discusses the rules of performing BVLOS flights in a general way. Details can be found in the regulations to which the link can be found at the end of the article. Each operator has a legal obligation to familiarize with the applicable regulations and apply them in practice.
General conditions and rules of flight
As an operator, you should have a “certificate of qualification of unmanned aerial vehicle operator (UAVO)” used for purposes other than recreation or sport with a rating to perform BVLOS operations. This is a document issued by the President of the Civil Aviation Authority. You will receive it after completing a special training course and passing the necessary exams (for more information, refer to the "Certificates of qualification/exams" tab). One of the conditions is also having appropriate third party liability insurance.
To obtain a certificate of qualification with BVLOS rating, appropriate aero-medical examinations are required (for more information, refer to the “Aero-medical certificate" tab).
First of all, remember that when you are flying, you are responsible for exercising extreme caution due to air traffic safety and peace and public order. Remember to fly only with the equipment that is technically efficient. It is you as the operator who is responsible for the safe and lawful use of UAV and its separation from other aircraft. Carefully plan your missions and get acquainted with the traffic situation in the airspace in a given area.
Every unmanned aircraft used in BVLOS operations must be entered into aircraft records kept by the President of the Civil Aviation Authority or into a foreign register or records of civil aircraft (register or records of another country).
Types of flights that can be carried out
BVLOS flights, which can be performed as part of the clearance obtained in compliance with applicable regulations are divided into several categories, which differ in terms of the scope of requirements that must be fulfilled to be carried out. These are operational, specialized, automatic and training flights:
a) operational flights are carried out as part of or for the purposes of activities:
• of state aviation (armed forces, police, border guard, state fire-fighting service);
• of customs-tax service;
• related to preventing or combating natural disasters or catastrophes;
• related to health care system;
• related to search or rescue;
• related to the protection of the internal security of the state;
• related to the recognition of safety hazards and environmental protection;
b) specialized flights are carried out as part of or for the purposes of:
• supervision, monitoring, control or protection of land or water civil engineering works, forest or water areas, people or property;
• geodetic activities related to agriculture or forestry;
• research, test, trial or demonstration flights;
c) automatic flights are carried out as part of or for the purposes of:
• supervision, monitoring, control or protection of land or water civil engineering works, forest or water areas;
• agro-aerial activities;
• medical supplies;
• research, test, trial or demonstration flights;
d) training flights are carried out as part of the training activities referred to in Article 95a of the Aviation Law Act.
Clearance to perform operations
It should be remembered that operational, specialized, automatic and training flights can be performed only by authorized entities which received clearance of the President of the Civil Aviation Authority. Clearance may be granted only after meeting the requirements by the requesting entity and by the unmanned aircraft that will be used as part of the clearance.
Procedure For Obtaining Permit For Behind Visual Line Of Sight Flight Operations
Obtaining clearance for operational, specialized, automatic and training lights - requirements related to unmanned aerial vehicles
The issuance of clearance referred to above is dependent on the appropriate UAV equipment, which is as follows:
a) in case of an UAV being aeroplane, it shall be equipped with:
• green continuous light, placed on the right wing, visible above and below the horizontal plane of the wing;
• red continuous light, located on the left wing, visible above and below the horizontal plane of the wing;
• white flashing light placed on the top of a vertical stabilizer or, in the absence thereof, on the upper surface of the hull in a manner ensuring an omnidirectional light distribution;
b) in case of an unmanned aerial vehicle being a multirotor, helicopter or aerostat, it shall be equipped with white flashing light, placed on the upper surface of the hull in a manner ensuring an omnidirectional light distribution;
c) each UAV used in BVLOS operations should be equipped with devices or systems mounted on board or being its ground equipment, to enable:
• preservation of assumed flight parameters;
• ongoing monitoring of flight parameters, including definition of flight path, flight speed, flight altitude using a barometric altimeter, the degree of battery charging or the degree of fuel consumption, quality and power of the communication signal between unmanned aerial vehicle and remote control station;
• basic location – determination of current location, speed, altitude and direction of UAV flight in order to transfer these data to air traffic service provider via CIS system or by telephone as requested by ATS unit;
• emergency location – the operator's determination of UAV current position in the event of irretrievable loss of UAV control capabilities or the occurrence of communication breaks between the UAV control station and the UAV;
• automatic execution of an emergency procedure, including flight termination by emergency landing, or continuing a flight on a pre-programmed route, or an arrival to a pre-programmed location;
• recording of flight parameters from the moment when the UAV control system is started until the system is turned off;
d) UAV should also be equipped with a camera allowing observation of its surroundings in order to reduce the risk of collision with another aircraft or obstacle.
Requirements related to the entity performing flights
Each entity performing operational, specialized, training and automatic flights is obliged to have and use an operational manual which is constantly updated, takes into account preventive recommendations of the President of the Civil Aviation Authority and is made in Polish or English. The manual must contain the following elements:
a) name and address of the registered office of the entity providing aerial services, its telephone number, e-mail address, tax identification number (NIP) or number in another register in which the entity was registered;
b) a list of unmanned aerial vehicles used, including their identification marks;
c) first and last name, number of the certificate of qualification and validity date of liability insurance of the operator performing or supervising the flight;
d) assessment and information on the method of limiting the risk of flight operations;
e) general list of control activities carried out before takeoff and after landing;
f) procedures and rules for performing air operations;
g) general emergency procedures;
h) procedure for providing inspections of UAV technical condition.
In addition, every operator performing flights is required to wear a warning vest while performing air operations. If the operator is not in an open area, it should be clearly indicated where he is located.
Clearance for operational, specialized, training and automatic flights is obtained at the request of the entity that intends to perform such flights.
Clearance is issued after the President of the Civil Aviation Authority verified that the entity meets the requirements concerning operations manual, personnel qualifications, insurance and UAV equipment required by the regulations. Clearance is issued for a period of 12 months.
The President of the Civil Aviation Authority notifies PANSA about entities that have obtained clearance to perform operational, specialized, automatic and training flights. Information is provided within two working days from the date the clearance is issued by the President of the Civil Aviation Authority.
The basic condition that must be met to perform the operations described above is the notification of the willingness to perform a flight to PANSA and publication by the Agency, information on UAV planned and implemented flights. Without fulfilment of these conditions, the flight cannot take place.
The entity wishing to perform a flight informs PANSA about its intention to perform the flight at least 7 days before the date of the flight. Then PANSA publishes information about:
a) UAV planned flights:
• at least 2 days before the flight date – in case of operational, specialized, automatic and training flights;
• on the day of flights – in case of operational flights, if it was not possible to plan the flight earlier;
b) UAV performed flights providing:
• the route of the flight or the area in which the flight will take place;
• flight altitude above mean sea level (AMSL) along the entire route or on individual sections of the route;
• flight time planned by the operator;
• UAV identification mark.
Both the entity submitting to PANSA the desire to perform the flight and the Agency itself, will use communication and information system or electronic communication means (e-mail, website or special application), as indicated by PANSA, to communicate between themselves and to publish flight information.
PANSA will issue flight conditions and publish information on their implementation only in the case of entities that have previously received clearance of the President of the Civil Aviation Authority to perform BVLOS operations.
Once the flight information has been published, the operations must be carried out under the following conditions and rules:
a) taking into account the comments provided by PANSA regarding the route and the area in which the flight will take place;
b) operational, specialized or training flights:
• up to not more than 120 m above ground level;
• at a speed of not more than 150 km/h;
c) automatic flights:
• up to 50 m above ground level or up to 50 m above the highest obstacle within a radius of 100 m from the place of flight,
• at a horizontal distance of less than 100 m from buildings of towns, cities or settlements under permission and conditions specified by town/city authorities,
• at a speed of not more than 150 km/h;
d) training flights at a horizontal distance of at least 150 m from housing estates and other population centers and at a horizontal distance of not more than 500 m from the operator performing the flight;
e) ensuring full flight control;
f) at a safe distance from other aircraft, obstacles, persons or animals, taking into account the meteorological conditions and information on air traffic restrictions;
g) in CTR: under conditions specified by PANSA;
h) in ATZ: under clearance and conditions specified by ATZ operator;
i) in Danger Area, MCTR or MATZ: only as cleared and needed by area/zone operator and under conditions specified by the operator;
j) in Prohibited Area: under clearance and conditions specified by the area operator;
k) in Restricted Area covering the airspace located directly over the area of the national park, under clearance and conditions specified the operator of a given national park;
l) in EP R40 Słupsk: only the aircraft referred to in Article VII para 3 of the Implementing Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Government of the United States of America to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Government of the United States of America concerning the deployment of ballistic missile defense system in the territory of the Republic of Poland regarding use of land areas and airspace surrounding the ballistic missile defense system base, signed in Warsaw on 27 April 2015 (Journal of Laws of 2016, item 234), upon approval referred to in this provision;
m) in ADIZ: after notifying your location and time of flight to air traffic service (ATS) unit responsible for the airspace in which the flight is to be performed, or to AMC Polska (Airspace Management Cell of the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency);
n) in case of flights within building structures: as cleared by the facility operator and in accordance with agreed safety rules;
o) In addition, flights performed over:
• closed areas,
• nuclear facilities,
• areas, facilities and devices referred to in Article 5 para. 2 point 1 letter a and b, point 2 letter a and b and point 3 letter a and b of the Act of 22 August 1997 on the protection of people and property (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 2142),
• military units and firing ranges,
can be performed only as cleared and needed by the area/facility/device operator.
p) flights over fuel pipelines, power lines and telecommunications lines, water dams and locks and other devices located in open area, the destruction or damage of which may endanger human life or health, the environment or cause serious material damage, is carried out with extreme caution;
q) in case of flights related to safety and public order, security and defense of the state, protection of the state border, protection of the internal safety of the state or search and rescue, provisions regarding flights in Prohibited and Restricted areas covering airspace immediately above the area of the national park do not apply.
What in the event of a failure
All technical devices may fail. However, such a situation in the case of UAV may carry a high risk, so in the event of UAV loss of control or UAV loss, the operator must immediately:
a) notify the competent ATS unit by telephone, via electronic communication means or communication and information system, and attempt to regain communication with the UAV;
b) provide the ATS unit with the following information: UAV current location identified by emergency location device, UAV last known location in the event of failure of the emergency location device, time of communication loss, last recorded speed, UAV altitude and heading, expected time to run out of fuel or depletion of power to the propulsion system.