Trafi, the transportation safety agency of Finland, has introduced what it says is one of the most liberal aviation regulatory systems in the world in regards to the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
The level of regulation depends on how the device is used: The requirements for model aircraft used for recreational purposes are significantly lighter than those for UAS used professionally. On the other hand, professional operators may legally carry out such tasks that are not allowed for recreational flyers.
The approach is risk-based and performance-based, in that risks associated with the operations are identified, assessed and mitigated mainly through the operators’ own risk-management procedures. The administrative burden and fees for official services are kept at a minimum – which makes it easy to launch new operations, the agency explains.
UAS registration is not required; however, Trafi says, “some basic information” is mandated “in order to allow the aviation authority to gain knowledge on the extent of unmanned aircraft activity in Finland.”
According to Trafi, “advance notification must be made of the intended use of a remotely piloted aircraft, the aircraft must be marked with the user’s name and contact details, [and] an exemption must be applied for in certain cases.”
“Furthermore, in specific situations, the user is required to produce a written safety assessment and operating instructions and to store this information for a period of at least three months.”
Under the regulations, UAS operators can fly during the day or night (weather-permitting). They can also operate over crowds or densely populated areas, as long as the aircraft does need exceed weight limits (seven kilos) and has been evaluated for safety.
”Our brand-new regulation on the use of unmanned aircraft is the most liberal in Europe, if not in the whole world,” says Kari Wihlman, director general at Trafi. “Right from the beginning, our goal has been to achieve as light a level of regulation as possible, and this has succeeded excellently in my opinion. The regulation leaves room for experiments and allows for the development of new business activities.”
Even though the regulations are broad, says Trafi, they contain many essential requirements to ensure safety.
Trafi says that when a UAS or model aircraft is used for photography, the operator must remember that Finland’s territorial surveillance and imperilment rules also apply to such operations, even if there are no specific provisions in the aviation regulation.
Additionally, regulations on areas where aviation is prohibited or restricted must be complied with in all types of aviation, including UAS and model aircraft, and activities that pose a hazard to flight safety or impede the flow of air traffic are always prohibited.
Trafi’s full list of regulations can be found here.