Model aircraft

Model aircraft flying is a leisure activity with numerous enthusiasts from young to old and covers a wide spectrum: from the youthful approach to flying and technology to ambitious scale large models. This page is intended to provide an overview of the current privileges and obligations for the Swiss model aviation.

In Switzerland, about 15'000 people practice model aircraft flying, of which about 8'000 are active as members in the 190 clubs of the Swiss Model Aircraft Association (SMV). The SMV represents the interests of the model aircraft sport and was able to negotiate far-reaching privileges when the EU drone regulation was introduced. For the privileges and obligations in model aircraft flying, besides the take-off weight, it is also decisive whether the operation takes place within the scope of a club/association, on the basis of the SMV guidelines or not. The following table shows the different possibilities:

Operation... < 25kg 25kg - 30kg > 30kg a club/association, according SMV guidelines
  • Operational privileges
  • No authorization by the FOCA needed*
  • Operational privileges
  • Large-model authorization by the FOCA needed
...neither in a club nor according SMV guidelines ("drone")
  • Operation according to Open-A3
  • No authorization by the FOCA needed
  • Operation according to Specific category
  • Authorization by the FOCA needed

* The FOCA optionally offers the large model authorization for models > 25kg for operation abroad.

Operation within the scope of a club/association

The conditions for the application of the privileged rules are met if you:

  • are either a member of the SMV; or
  • commit to comply with the SMV guidelines by means of a declaration. The declaration as well as the guidelines ("Code of Good Practice") are available on the SMV page and must be signed and carried along.

The Privileges are subject to weight-dependent rules, which are shown in the following table:

Operation ≤ 250g > 250g
  • Minimum age of unsupervised pilots: 5 years
  • Model aircraft is flown in visual line of sight
  • Do not fly in a negligent or intentionally risky manner
  • Respect protected areas for wildlife (yellow zones on the drone map)
Restrictions None
  • Within a magenta zone of the drone map (i.e. 5km radius to aerodrome*) a permit of the aerodrome management is required.
  • Within a magenta shaded zone of the drone map (i.e. outside 5km to aerodrome*, but within CTR) the maximum allowed flight altitude is 150m above ground. Exceptions can be requested using the SFO tool.
  • Operation closer than 100m to crowds is not allowed. Exception: Public air shows.

* 5km from runways of a civil/military aerodrome or a reduced geographical zone.

Operation at public air shows

The operation at pure model airshows is not regulated by the FOCA and is carried out on individual responsibility. If model aircraft take part in an air show with manned aircraft, a special permit must be obtained from the FOCA in due time.

Large models subject to authorization

Further information

Last modification 15.11.2023

Top of page