The Dutch drone rules will be amended to make it easier to test drones at 'drone test sites’. The proposed amendments are available here for consultation (available in Dutch) until 24 October 2017.

The technical development of drones is progressing rapidly. Given that drones also present dangers, flying drones is subject to a plethora of rules. For example, in many urban areas private individuals are not allowed to fly drones, and they may never fly them higher than 120 metres. To use drones for commercial purposes, one must have an RPAS Operator Certificate ("ROC") and a pilot licence, among other things. For more information on the drone rules, watch this short film.

Prompted by the fast technological development of drones, the Netherlands currently already has several test sites. The legislature has explained that these test sites were made legally possible by granting exemptions that are actually only intended for exceptional situations. To that end, the legislature decided to make use of section 1.2 (2) of the Dutch Aviation Act (Wet luchtvaart). Based on that section, it can be decided by means of a general order in council for certain situations that parts of the Aviation Act do not apply. Consequently, designating test sites is premised on a legal basis and no longer constitutes an exception.

In practical terms, the proposed amendments can be outlined as follows. In future, operators of drone test sites must apply to the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate for a safety certificate for their respective drone test sites. Parties wanting to test drones at those certified sites will no longer need to apply for an ROC, pilot licence, certificate of airworthiness or proof of registration. This will enable drone developers to test drones that have not yet been found airworthy, e.g. to test new applications.

These legislative amendments will be laid down in the Dutch Aviation Licences Decree (Besluit bewijzen van bevoegdheid voor de luchtvaart), the Dutch Civilian Airports Decree (Besluit burgerluchthavens), the Dutch Aircraft Decree 2008 (Besluit luchtvaartuigen 2008) and the Dutch Flight Operations Decree (Besluit vluchtuitvoering). Parties that work with drones and parties that are otherwise interested in these amendments and developments can comment here.