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Flying a drone is only allowed in unrestricted areas

In recent weeks, there has been discussion about sightings of suspicious drones near critical infrastructure, among other places. Finland has many prohibited and restricted areas where flying a drone is not allowed, which include nuclear power plants and areas important for national defence, preparedness and the central government, for example. Prohibitions and restrictions can also be imposed based on temporary needs. When preparing to go out to fly a drone, always make sure in advance that you are actually allowed to fly on your planned route. For more comprehensive information, please visit the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom’s droneinfo.fi website.

“We are taking the recently increased sightings very seriously and monitoring them actively in cooperation with other authorities. It should be noted, however, that there is no need to worry about every drone operator. A large proportion operate their drones safely and in accordance with established rules,” states Deputy Director-General Pietari Pentinsaari.

The droneinfo.fi website provides comprehensive information on where you are not allowed to fly

Drone operators must always check currently active prohibited and restricted areas themselves before flying a drone. “The area restrictions programmed into drones by manufacturers do not automatically protect operators from making mistakes or inadvertently entering prohibited areas,” points out Senior Inspector Mika Saalasti.

Permanent prohibited and restricted areas that apply to all aviation have been specified in the Government Decree on areas where aviation is restricted (External link) (in Finnish). Temporary prohibited and restricted areas are also regularly established in Finnish airspace. These areas may be established to protect large public events or training activities by the Defence Forces, for example. Information on any established temporary prohibited and restricted areas is provided in the Fintraffic air navigation services’ Aeronautical Information Services at ais.fi (External link) as supplements to the Aeronautical Information Publication.

Traficom can also establish restricted or prohibited UAS geographical zones. Such zones have been established at locations such as airports to restrict drone flying and protect air traffic. The details of established UAS geographical zones are published on the droneinfo.fi (External link) website.

There is also currently a private map service called Aviamaps (External link) available for checking potential restrictions along a planned drone flight route. Please note, however, that this service is not endorsed or supervised by Traficom. Official information is always available on the ais.fi service and the droneinfo.fi website.

“If you are planning on capturing images or video using a drone, do not use your drone to look into areas protected by the sanctity of the home or fly in a disruptive manner above people’s homes. Be sure to also keep in mind that recording national defence exercises, depots or related activities is prohibited without a separate permit,” Saalasti emphasises.

Familiarise yourself with the rules, register and take the exam

All drone operators, both hobbyists and professionals, must register, familiarise themselves with the drone flying rules and, in most cases, pass the theoretical examination. However, the registration obligation does not apply to operators who fly drones that weigh less than 250 g and are not equipped with a camera or drones that are classified as toys. Most operators who fly drones as a leisure activity only need to pass the remote pilot’s online examination.

“So far, the online exam has been taken by 19,200 drone operators. Following common rules ensures both your own safety and the safety of others. You can register as a drone operator and take the examination easily via Traficom’s droneinfo.fi website,” says Saalasti.

Flying a drone weighing 500–2,000 grams within 150 metres of residential, business, industrial and recreational areas requires the completion of a supervised additional theoretical knowledge examination after completing the online theoretical knowledge examination. This so-called A2 theoretical examination has been completed by 1,450 operators so far. Flying a drone weighing over 2,000 grams within 150 metres of residential, business, industrial and recreational areas is always subject to a permit.

The European Union closed its airspace to Russian aircraft at the end of February in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The European Commission and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have clarified that the restriction does not differentiate between manned and unmanned aviation, meaning that it applies to drone flying as well.

Additional information

Senior Inspector Mika Saalasti, mika.saalasti@traficom.fi, tel. +358 29 534 6108

Droneinfo: Where is flying prohibited? (External link)

Read more: Drone sightings being monitored by the police (External link) (in Finnish)