The rules and regulations on unmanned aircraft systems (drones) in Hungary are aligning with international trends, and have been tightened by an amendment to Act CXXXVI of 2016 on the Amendment of Act XCVII of 1995 on the Aviation (the "Act"). The new rules were in force as of 31 December 2016. However, most of the details are to be regulated in an upcoming government decree, and lawmakers are also expected to cover data protection aspects. For example, the Act does not differentiate between toy machines and heavier ones. Effective data protection regulations, according to this issue’s importance in the world, are still to come in Hungary.
Mandatory registration, training and inspection. The aviation authority registers each operator and at the same time inspects the devices. Operators may use an electronic registry system for notification on activity for the authority. Like other nations’ drone regulations, the Act envisages mandatory training courses for drone operators. Due to the proliferation of drones, it is necessary for the police to initiate sanctioning along with the aviation authority.
Information on airspace closure. The condition for the lawful operation of a drone: operators shall be aware of the airspace, territories and restricted areas where they shall not enter with their machines. These areas may vary from time to time (e.g. accidents, entourages of protected persons, protected objects, or territories, e.g. filming locations.) The aviation authority will release a mobile phone application to inform drone operators and the public on airspace closure.
Liability insurance. In order to protect operators and third parties, operators shall have liability insurance regarding the aviation activity performed with their device. The insurance shall, at least, cover the following amounts of compensation for damage caused by the drone: below 2 kg take-off mass: up to HUF 3,000,000 (approx. EUR 10,000); between 2 kg and 10 kg: up to HUF 5,000,000 (approx. EUR 17,000); and above 10 kg: up to HUF 10,000,000 (approx. EUR 33,340).
Drone airport. The Act enables the establishment of non-public airports for drone operators.
Upcoming legislation. The upcoming government decree is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2017. It may ease the strict rules of the Act, red tape and unrealistic requirements with more detailed provisions. The draft provides that not every drone shall be registered, but each category of drone falls under the obligation of completing an e-course on aviation.
The toy drones less than 250 grams are not regulated under the scope of the regulation. The decree will divide the drones into three plus one categories. According to the latest amendment of the upcoming government decree, the weight of the drones shall be applied on the take-off mass. Except for toy drones, devices may not fly above 130 meters from ground and more than 500 meters away from the operator who must maintain continuous and direct visual contact without the use of supporting tools throughout the entire duration of the flight.
- In the 1st category for drones below 2 kg, the operator shall perform the minimum requirements, such as visibility and passing online training.
- In the 2nd category, the operator shall register the drone and have an operating license issued by the aviation authority after attending training and passing theoretical and practical exams. For drones between 2 and 25 kg, liability insurance is not obligatory.
- For devices above 25 kg in the 3rd category, the operator shall have a qualified professional license, after the device has passed the airworthiness test. In this case, the operator shall keep an (electronic) logbook, and shall conclude liability insurance for the aviation activity.
- The fourth extra category, drones of over 150 kg in weight, falls within the competence of the European Aviation Safety Agency.
With the upcoming government decree, inhabited areas will reach a special position among restricted areas. The operator may use the device there if complying with specific visibility requirements for drones and operators. The devices may not be operated within an altitude of 30 meters above private property without consent. According to the draft, specific rules will apply on drone operation for sports and private purposes. Drones may approach residential buildings not closer than 100 meters. Drones can approach individuals not involved in the aviation closer than 30 meters only upon their prior written consent. The drones shall have such paint and built-in lighting, and operators shall wear such clothing like safety vests, which ensure their visibility in daylight as well as in the dark.