DGAC's airspace restriction data for the west of France. Image:Géoportail/IGN

France’s IGN updates Géoportail hobby drone airspace map

Policy • regulations • airspace

France’s National Institute of Geographic and Forest Information (IGN) updated the online Géoportail map in March with new airspace restriction data for hobby drones. However, a professional c-drone version is not yet available.

Géoportail, launched in 2006, is the official online source of French maps for the public. Various cartographic and photographic data of the country can be overlaid and enlarged, and the map is searchable by street address. Although Android and iOS smartphone applications are available, the drone airspace map is absent from the Géoportail apps.

The hobby drone airspace restrictions map was first added to Géoportail in April 2017, following an offline version in 2016, with source data supplied by the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC). The DGAC regularly publishes simplified documentation for hobby drone pilots, including for example a YouTube video.

The interactive map shows five color-coded altitude restrictions from red to yellow: flight forbidden, maximum altitude 30m (100 ft), 50m (164 ft), 60m (196 ft), and 100m (328 ft). Non-colorized areas correspond to the default ceiling for c-drones of 150m (492 ft), as specified in the decree of December 17, 2015 modified March 30, 2017 and the decree of October 27, 2017. The interactive map shows the maximum permitted altitude for any point with a click.

Recreational pilots are advised by the government to contact the local prefecture for restrictions concerning known limitations in the map data:

  • City limits are approximative; per the regulations, flight within city limits (including parks and waterways) is not permitted, with some local exceptions
  • Private heliports, where drone flights are restricted, are not indicated
  • Bird sanctuaries are restricted during nesting season
  • Hamlets are indicated with hexagons; overflight is not permitted, but the precise locations of many small villages are not registered
  • Temporary Restricted Areas are not included; drone pilots must still look up these restrictions on the DGAC’s Aeronautical Information Department (SIA) website.

The IGN indicates that a version for professional c-drones is being studied.