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Drones and remotely piloted aircraft (UAS/RPAS) - frequencies and radio licences

Drones and remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) and their telecommand equipment contain radio equipment that must comply with requirements. European regulations provide that radio equipment must bear a declaration of conformity and a CE marking. The regulations on wireless devices and their use vary from country to country and it is possible that devices sold in foreign online stores generate interference in Finland, for instance. Devices should not interfere with other radio equipment when their frequencies and radiated power are correct.

Traficom steers and supervises the use of radio spectrum in Finland. By planning the use of spectrum, Traficom aims to ensure that sufficient radio frequencies, that are as interference-free as possible, are available to radio systems.

The transmitters and receivers in remotely piloted, or radio-controlled (rc), drones, copters and other aircraft (UAS/RPAS) as well as in their flight controls are radio equipment. Therefore, they must meet the requirements set for such radio equipment.

Conformity of radio equipment (External link)

Buying and using radio equipment

Radio frequencies

Command and control links

A drone or remotely piloted aircraft is controlled wirelessly mainly from the ground. The flight control may be a radio transmitter or a more complex control and command station with a video display. The remote pilot, who is on the ground, can control the aircraft using command and control links and receive real-time information about the aircraft systems, such as the rotational speed of motors.

The most commonly used frequencies for controlling drones (from ground to air) are the ones for licence-exempt radio equipment:

  • 2400.000–2483.500 MHz, in which case the transmitter's effective radiated power is either
    • ≤100 mW EIRP, if the applicable standard is EN 300 328 on the digital wideband data transmission equipment (WAS), or
    • ≤10 mW EIRP, if the applicable standard is EN 300 440 on general short range devices (SRD).
  • 5470.000–5600.000 MHz and 5650.000–5725.000 MHz, in which case the transmitter's effective radiated power is ≤ 1 W EIRP and the power spectral density of transmission is ≤ 50 mW/1 MHz EIRP. The applicable standard is EN 301 893 on RLAN equipment.
    (The use of this frequency band is being discussed within the international cooperation. The results may lead to removing this frequency band from being used on board aircraft. With equipment taken into use after 17 December 2021 it is not allowed to use frequency band 5600.0005650.000 MHz on board airborne aircraft or in other equipment used for aviation.)
  • 5725.000–5875.000 MHz, in which case the transmitter's effective radiated power is ≤25 mW EIRP and the applicable standard is EN 300 440 on general SRD.

Other frequency bands suitable for controlling drones and remotely piloted aircraft can be found in the Traficom's Regulation 15.

The frequency band 5030–5091 MHz is, according to the Radio Regulations published by the International Telecommunication Union ITU, allocated to the aeronautical mobile (route) service and limited to aeronautical systems standardized internationally by the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO.

Payload frequencies

Payload refers to other radio equipment than those used for command and control links. The most common payload device is a camera that can send real-time video feed from the aircraft to the ground. A thermographic camera or different measuring equipment may also be included in the payload.

Frequency bands 2400.000–2483.500 MHz, 5470.000–5600.000 MHz, 5650.000–5725.000 MHz (see usage restriction above) and 5725.000–5875.000 MHz may be used for the payload devices of an aircraft in addition to command and control links.

The frequency 1320 MHz is only meant for sending video feed from aircraft to the ground. Using this frequency requires a radio licence that can only be obtained for a fixed period.

Use of mobile network frequencies

Under Traficom’s Regulation 15, mobile network terminal devices may be used on board airborne aircraft without a licence if they are needed for certain official duties of the authorities or functions vital for the security of supply. This is a fixed-term arrangement valid until 31 March 2024.

If activities do not concern the authorities' official duties or functions vital for the security of supply, as referred to in Regulation 15, Traficom may also, with the consent of the relevant mobile operator, grant a radio licence that enables using mobile network terminal devices on board aircraft. The mobile network frequencies specified in the radio licence may be used for command and control links, payload connections or calls.

Short-term test licences are possible

Traficom may grant short-term test licences for tests and trials of RPA. Traficom assesses case-by-case whether a radio licence may be granted for the requested frequencies.

Traficom is the civil aviation authority in Finland

Traficom is responsible for ensuring that air transport is safe and as environmentally friendly as possible and for promoting the facilitation and flow of air traffic. Traficom considers aviation issues from the perspective of airline passengers, airlines, private pilots and airport operators.

More information about flying drones at Droneinfo.fi (External link).