We often forget drones are not toys so before you use one in Croatia, make sure you have necessary permissions
After noticing on January 10, 2016, that the hugely popular amateur promo video of Split we reported on last week is no longer available on YouTube, we contacted the author and came across a very interesting story, one that will interest all amateur video makers using drones.
One of the authors Dario Waynder (originally from the US, he was in Split on holiday and not familiar with Croatian regulations) was asked to remove his video from YouTube while his Croatian partner received a fine, because, as it turns out, they violated several articles of the Croatian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Ordinance, created by the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency, which was enforced in May 2015 (changes and amendments July 2015).
Since drones are becoming cheaper by the day, and new models are very easy to operate giving you the opportunity to film from all angles and create fantastic shots, many filmmakers are using them. So much so they can now be seen in every city during almost every major event, sometimes causing security problems. That is why a special ordinance was enforced to prevent chaos and possible accidents and you need to follow the rules even if the drone is for your personal use and think your drone is no more than a toy.
Ivan Ercegović, author of several awarded promo films and owner of production company SkyAction uses high-tech drones for filming purposes, and he says even though Croatian Ordinance is much more liberal than the US one, and seems to be an exact copy of the Austrian model; it still requires some adjustments and changes to be more in tune with Croatian needs. He expects the rules to become much stricter after Austrian skier Marcel Hirscher was almost struck by a drone carrying a TV camera while competing at an event in Italy back in December.
According to Ivan and the official Ordinance, these are the basic rules you need to know before you embark on your next drone adventure (unless you own an object with a kinetic energy level of 79 J or less):
1. Drones cannot be used at night.
2. Unless you’ve obtained a special permission, drones can only be used in areas classified as Class I and II (uninhabited areas without buildings or areas with abandoned auxiliary commercial buildings), but you will still need a certificate stating you are trained to use the device
3. When flying over large crowds, the user must have a special permission from the organiser, the flight must be reported to the Civil Aviation Agency along with the names of the owner and operator of the drone and you must have accident and liability coverage.
4. Drone must be at least 150 m away from a large group of people and it can never be more than 500 m away from the person controlling it (must remain in his / her line of sight at all times)
Complete Ordinance can be found HERE, and please make sure you read it to avoid any confusion and to prevent any subsequent fines from the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency.