What is the maximum altitude I'm allowed to fly a model plane or 'copter in Germany?
The maximum altitude you can operate your RC plane or copter vertically without any clearance from ATC or another government body is the upper limit of class G airspace in Germany, which is the first available airspace from
GND to the lower vertical limit of controlled airspace C/D/E, which can be
1.700ft AGL or
1.000ft AGL, depending on surrounding airspace and airports in the vicinity. You can register at the website of the DFS AIS to obtain the ICAO charts for your area and take a look at the airspace structure near you.
The actual ceiling of airspace G can be significantly lower in the vicinity of larger airports, where the controlled airspace C/D/E has been lowered. The below picture shows how the dark green section around Frankfurt Airport has an airspace C with the vertical limits
1.500ft (MSL)/FL100. The airspace E in that area (not visible in this picture) has a vertical limit of
1.000ft AGL/C. Some areas within that section already have an elevation of
700-1100ft MSL, which leaves less than
100-400ft of airspace G before the overlying airspace C begins.
If you want to get your RC plane or copter into class C/D/E airspace, which is controlled airspace, you will need to obtain a clearance through the ATC unit in control of the sector or the FIS sector responsible, as postulated in LuftVO §16a
§ 16a LuftVO
Besondere Benutzung des kontrollierten Luftraums
(1) Bei Inanspruchnahme des kontrollierten Luftraums ist von der zuständigen Flugverkehrskontrollstelle eine Flugverkehrskontrollfreigabe einzuholen für
1. Fallschirmsprünge und den Abwurf von Gegenständen an Fallschirmen;
2. Aufstiege von Flugmodellen und anderen fern- oder ungesteuerten Flugkörpern mit Eigenantrieb;
3. Aufstiege von unbemannten Freiballonen mit einer Gesamtmasse von Ballonhülle und Ballast von mehr als 0,5 kg sowie Aufstiege von gebündelten unbemannten Freiballonen und Massenaufstiege von unbemannten Freiballonen.
Please also mind LuftVO §15a, which dictactes that any RC plane or UAV needs to remain within the visbility range of the controller, so the maximum altitude can vary depending on the size of your RC plane or copter, the weather minima at your location and your own eyesight:
(3) Der Betrieb von unbemannten Luftfahrtsystemen ist verboten, wenn
1. er außerhalb der Sichtweite des Steuerers erfolgt oder
2. die Gesamtmasse des Geräts mehr als 25 Kilogramm beträgt.
1: AGL = Above Ground Level 2: MSL = Mean Sea Level
Future readers should be careful, due to the increased usage of quadcopter drones and first reports about incidences with them emerging, this is about to change.
The currently proposed draft for a new law adds requirements like:
- strict altitude restrictions
- plaque stating the name and address of owner/operator
- drone pilot license
depending on the starting weight of the drone / RC model (in the following UAVs for unmanned aerial vehicle).
Because this has (to my knowledge) not been decided conclusively, here's an example as to how I remember a TV news report on the law's current draft:
- UAVs up to 250g starting weight, 100m max altitude, no plaque or license needed
- UAVs above 250g starting weight, 100m max altitude, plaque indicating name and address but no license needed
- UAVs above 5-10kg (I'm really unsure about this number) additional license needed but altitude restriction is regulated according to airspace classification, which is taught in the process to acquire the license.
I bolded what I think will be the answer applying to OP in a few months time.
In close proximity to airports you're already disallowed to fly anything unless you have license and ATC clearing.
Try this link: http://www.rc-network.de/magazin/artikel_02/art_02-0001/art_02-0001-00.html#3. If you want an even broader view, go to this link here: http://www.rc-network.de/magazin/artikel_02/art_02-0001/art_02-0001-00.html. Hope this helps!
This is a quote from the first link:
Basically, it can be stated that the model airplane at the latest at FL 100 (FL = flight level, flight level), which is about 3 km above sea level, comes to an end.
The page is in German, and of course, Chrome didn't provide a perfect translation. So model airplanes aren't allowed to fly higher than 3 km. Higher airspace is reserved for commercial flights, military, etc.