Hungary changes rules for drone operations

Hungary

The rules in Hungary for unmanned aircrafts, commonly known as drones, changed on 1 January 2021.

The changes occurred after the 22 December 2020 passage of Act CLXXIX of 2020 on amending certain laws relating to the operation of unmanned aircrafts in Hungary (Drone Act), further to rules set down in EU Implementing Regulation 2019/947 on the regulation of drones.

With the Drone Act, Hungary is positioning itself to be a leader in this technology. According to a statement by the Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology, Hungary intends to play a key regional role in the dissemination of drone technology through software development, applying drone use to economical maintenance of agricultural areas, research and development, and utilising drones for public service functions such as search and rescue.

The main changes introduced by the Drone Act include:

Register

Since only registered vehicles can use Hungarian airspace, the aviation authority will keep a register of flying machines, unmanned aircraft systems and their operators. The Act contains the detailed rules for the registers such as the scope of the data that must be provided and conditions necessary for deletion from the register.

Website and application

All those registered and approved for operating a drone must use the https://mydronespace.hu/ website and a dedicated mobile application, which support drone use and contains current airspace information and other restrictions. The website and app will be operated by HungaroControl Magyar Légiforgalmi Szolgálat Zrt. Data processed in connection with the operational tasks of the website and the application can then be used by Hungarian law enforcement, national security and crime prevention bodies – when exercising investigative powers and counter terrorism – and by the aviation authority and the courts. These bodies can receive data directly or request information on a case-by-case basis (after indicating the purpose of the data processing).

Occasional airspace

The use of a drone over a residential area will only be permitted in a specific "occasional" airspace. Violation of this will constitute a traffic infringement. In order to control the use of drones in residential areas, the military aviation authority will designate airspace for occasional drone use and formulate a procedure for access.

Unmanned toy aircraft

The new rules introduce the concept of unmanned toy aircraft – drones lighter than 120 grams and unable to move more than 100 metres away from the operator – which are not subject to the rules governing registration and occasional airspace.

Interference in the control of the drone

According to the Act XCVII of 1995 on aviation, authorised bodies overseeing Hungarian airspace can detect drones, call for their landing, stop or interrupt them electronically, or force them to the ground either electronically or mechanically. Drone operators must immediately follow any instructions given by such an authority.

Sanctions

  • Aviation fine. For violating rules for the operation of a drone, the Drone Act prescribes an aviation fine of up to HUF 100 million (EUR 267,000).

  • Misdemeanour. Unauthorised use of a drone over a residential area or making unauthorised audio or video of an apartment, premises or fenced premises during unauthorised drone use is a misdemeanor and violators can receive a maximum fine of HUF 150,000 (EUR 400).

  • Illicit Access to Data. Anyone who monitors and records another apartment, premises or fenced premises through unauthorised drone use can be punished with a maximum of 90 days confinement. A person who makes an audio or video recording, obtained through unauthorised drone use, available to the general public can be punished by up to one year's imprisonment. These criminal offences are only punishable through a private motion.

Co-authored by Annamária Klicsu.

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