On 15 December, the Council of Ministers approved a Royal Decree 1036/2017 regulating the civil use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) more commonly known as drones. This new regulation directly replaces the former temporary regulation in Articles 50 and 51 of Act 18/2014 on urgent measures for development, competitiveness and efficiency.

This new regulation allows flight operations of UAS, which were formerly prohibited, provided several requirements are met. Importantly now UAS are permitted to fly over populated areas (including accumulations of buildings and crowds), during night time (between sunset and sunrise) and within areas in which flight is controlled. To do so, flight operators must (i) carry out aviation security analysis and (ii) obtain authorization from the State Aviation Safety Agency.

The security analysis must assess the risks that may arise from the flight operation(s) and specify the particular measures that the operator plans to put in place in order to mitigate them. A specific security analysis is required for each operation or set of operations that share the same set of risks (eg, flight operations during one week over the city of Granada). 

The Royal Decree addresses the regulation on the use of drones in a technical way, but leaves unregulated certain issues like privacy, personal data protection, civil liability, cybersecurity and the use of radio frequencies.

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport also announced a Drones Strategic Plan to be published in the next few months. This plan aims to complement the new Royal Decree and its implementation.