RPAS - Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (Drones)

This is information on ‘drones’ for recreational or professional use in The Netherlands, including the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

Amsterdam FIR

Mass between 0 and 25 kg
A flight only for air display, recreation or sport with a remotely piloted aircraft with a total mass between 0 and 25 kg is allowed only within the restrictions and regulations for model aircraft (Annex 1; Regelingmodelvliegen).

Mass between 0 and 150 kg (nog a model)
A flight with a remotely piloted aircraft with a mass between 0 and 150 kg and not a model aircraft (so its flight is for other purposes than air display, recreation or sport) is not allowed to operate unless the RPAS operator, RPAS and RPA pilot have a valid specific permission / exemption of CAA-NL (ILT).

RPAS operators based outside The Netherlands can apply for exemptions by filing the special form, (see below) based on Article 8 of the Convention for International Civil Aviation and described in ICAO Annex 2, appendix 4 Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems and in ICAO Circular 328 AN/190 and ICAO Manual on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Doc 10019. Please note that the specified documents such as RPAS Operator Certificate and an operational plan are essential. Please note that permissions will only be possible for: 

  • flights in VFR daylight, VLOS, EVLOS, in uncontrolled airspace
  • outside prohibited and restricted area, see dronemap (link) for permanent prohibited or restricted area 
  • with a safe distance (>150 meter for RPAS with MTOM > 4 kg and > 50 m for RPAS with MTOM < 4 kg during flights up to 50 m AGL)) to populated area (the congested areas of cities, towns or settlements or over an open-air assembly of persons), moving cars, trains and vessels and 
  • below 120 meter above ground or water (AGL).     

RPAS operators have to convince CAA-NL that they are qualified to operate their RPAS safely.

Curacao FIR, San Juan FIR

Please note that the airspace above the BES islands (Dutch Caribbean: airspace above the islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) is prohibited airspace or controlled airspace (control zone - CTR or aerodrome traffic zone - ATZ). It is not allowed to fly there with aircraft including remotely piloted aircraft / model aircraft without the permission of ATC or AFIS.
At this moment ATC and AFIS are not able to grant any permission. So please let your ‘drone’ at home or keep it stored in your suitcase during your stay.

Detail information

  • Yrausquin ATZ at Saba, with a radius of 5 NM from the ARP (radiocommunication via AFIS/Yrausquin information), so the ATZ is larger than the island Saba. This ATZ is available only for manned aircraft with a permission of Yrausquin information.
  • Roosevelt ATZ at Sint Eustatius, with a radius of 5 NM from ARP (communication via AFIS/Roosevelt information), so the ATZ is larger than the island Sint Eustatius. This ATZ is available only for manned aircraft with a permission of Roosevelt information.
  • The Flamingo CTR at Bonaire is visible on the map below. It is the large area with the mark 25 NM TNCB ARP. The area TNP-1 and TNP-2 are prohibited for all aircraft. The space between these two area is only available for manned aircraft with a clearance of ATC.
Map airspace Bonaire Flamingo

List of abbreviations

ACAS Airborne Collision Avoidance System
AFIS Aerodrome Flight Information System
AGL Above Ground Level
ARP Aerodrome Reference Point
ATC Air Traffic Control
ATZ Aerodrome Traffic Zone
BES Islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba
CAA-NL Civil Aviation Authority The Netherlands
CTR Control Zone
FIR Flight Information Region
FPV First Person View
ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization
NM Nautical Miles
RPA pilot Remotely Piloted Aircraft pilot working for an RPAS operator
RPAS Remotely Piloted Aircraft System
TNCB The Nature Conservancy Bonaire
VFR Visual Flight Rules
VLOS Visual Line of Sight

Annex 1 Rules and regulations for model aircraft

Rules and regulations (i) for model aircraft in The Netherlands (but not valid on the BES islands):

  1. It is not allowed to use a model aircraft:
    i. with a mass of more than 25 kg
    ii. for a company or profession, with benefit or payment except teaching flying model aircraft.
  2. Model aircraft shall give way to aeroplanes, helicopters, gliders including hanggliders and paragliders, free balloons and airships. In all other situations between two aircraft converging on or about on the same height, the aircraft shall give way to the one that is on his right side.
  3. SERA.3201: nothing in this regulation shall relieve the pilot in command of an aircraft from the responsibility of taking such action (=avoiding of collisions), including collision avoidance manoeuvres based on resolution advisories provided by ACAS equipment, as will best avert collision.
  4. The flight with a model aircraft shall be executed only within conditions and on locations where during the whole flight there is a good visual sight from the ground on the model aircraft and rounding airspace.
  5. The pilot shall during the whole flight hold bright visual sight on the model aircraft (so first person view – FPV – is not allowed).
  6. Flights with a model aircraft are only allowed during daylight (see Ais Netherlands GEN 2.7)
  7. Flights with a model aircraft are not allowed above congested areas of cities, towns or settlements including industry area and harbours or over open-air assembly of persons, railways or for motorized vehicles open public roads, excluded the 30 km roads inside towns and 60 km roads outside towns.
  8. ATC controlled flights with model aircraft are not permitted.
  9. Flights with model aircraft are permitted only in airspace class G (so: not in controlled airspace, see bijzondere vluchten helpdesk nvnl)
  10. In class G not above 300 (ii) m AGL (above ground level)
  11. Not within a distance of 3 km of uncontrolled (= no ATC) aerodromes including temporary used aerodromes, glider sites  bijzondere activiteiten helpdesk nvnl
  12. Not in or below low flying areas for civil or military aircraft (see link at: 9.)
  13. In the ATZ of military aerodromes where the use of model aircraft explicitly is allowed including communication agreements with other airspace users, it is possible to fly legally up to 450 m AGL with model aircraft.
  14. Modelclubs who like to operate with model aircraft in controlled airspace (CTR’s with class C or D airspace) shall contact the relevant ATC organization for the essential and necessary agreement (see link at 9). If such an agreement will be possible depends on risk analyses with important information about the location including height of the model aircraft flights, times of activity, etc.

(i) Disclaimer: This is an informal translation. The original Dutch text prevails in case of doubt.

(ii) Due to increasing amount of incident reports related to interaction between manned and unmanned aircraft it is strongly advised to be very carefully with flights above 120 m AGL.