Drones on Bonaire
This is information on ‘drones’ for recreational or professional use in The Netherlands, including the islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba.
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 drone map (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 meters 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.
- 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 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 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 areas is only available for manned aircraft with a clearance of ATC.
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|
|FIR||Flight Information Region|
|FPV||First Person View|
|ICAO||International Civil Aviation Organization|
|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):
- 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 for teaching flying model aircraft.
- Model aircraft shall give way to airplanes, helicopters, gliders including hang gliders 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.
- 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 maneuvers based on resolution advisories provided by ACAS equipment, as will best avert a collision.
- 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.
- The pilot shall during the whole flight hold the bright visual sight on the model aircraft (so first person view – FPV – is not allowed).
- Flights with a model aircraft are only allowed during daylight (see Ais Netherlands GEN 2.7)
- Flights with a model aircraft are not allowed above congested areas of cities, towns or settlements including industry area and harbors or over an open-air assembly of persons, railways or for motorized vehicles open public roads, excluding the 30 km roads inside towns and 60 km roads outside towns.
- ATC controlled flights with model aircraft are not permitted.
- Flights with model aircraft are permitted only in airspace class G (so: not in controlled airspace, see bijzondere vluchten helpdesk nvnl)
- In class G not above 300 (ii) m AGL (above ground level)
- Not within a distance of 3 km of uncontrolled (= no ATC) aerodromes including temporarily used aerodromes, glider sites bijzondere activiteiten helpdesk nvnl
- Not in or below low flying areas for civil or military aircraft (see link at 9.)
- 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.
- Model clubs 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 the height of the model aircraft flights, times of activity, etc.
(i) Disclaimer: This is an informal translation. Click on this link for the FAQ in Dutch.
(ii) Due to the increasing amount of incident reports related to an interaction between manned and unmanned aircraft it is strongly advised to be very careful with flights above 120 m AGL.