Belgian railway manager asks drone pilots to keep their distance from railways

The Belgian railway manager, Infrabel, in collaboration with FPS Mobility, has sent an email to drone pilots asking them to keep some distance from railway infrastructure, such as railways and overhead wires.

This is for safety reasons. Unlike in the , there is no prohibition in Belgium on flying a drone over railway lines.

Five meters away

The email message was sent by the UAS team of the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport. The mail calls on drone pilots in the Open category to keep at least five meters away from railways and not to fly a drone near overhead wires, because of the risk of radio signal interference. The safety of train drivers and railway staff is cited as the reason for the call.

Unlike in the Netherlands, there is no ban in on conducting Open category drone flights over railway lines. In the Netherlands, according to the Unmanned Aircraft Regulation, a minimum horizontal distance from railway lines of 25 meters for Open subcategories A1/A2 and 150 meters for Open subcategory A3 applies.

Full message

You can read the full email as sent by the UAS team below.

“Dear drone community,

Infrabel manages the rail network and infrastructure such as tracks and overhead wires in Belgium. Infrabel has defined safety measures for external operators to fly drones near or above the railway infrastructure, with the intention that these flights do not constitute an obstacle or a safety risk for the infrastructure and rail traffic, for Infrabel’s personnel.

Safety precautions for flying your drone near or over railway infrastructure:

Be careful not to fly within 5 meters of the track as the turbulence from the train’s wake can throw the drone off balance. It is also recommended that the pilot is no closer than 5 meters to the runway.

Avoid flying over overhead wires (between 3000V and 25000V) as this may interfere with the drone’s radio transmissions and electronic systems.

FYI, a collision between a drone and a train traveling at 160 km/h can be fatal for the train driver. All these risks can lead to accidents and incidents that not only cause serious human and material damage, but also lead to disruptions to rail traffic with economic damage in terms of punctuality.

Any accident on the railway infrastructure (catenaries or tracks) must be reported immediately to the Infrabel traffic control center.

These guidelines can be consulted on www.infrabel.be/nl/drones or www.infrabel.be/fr/drones. For all questions regarding drone flights or drone operators flying in the vicinity of or above the railway domain, please contact Infrabel’s Drone Competence Center.

The UAS team wishes you a pleasant and safe flight.”

Via FDR1. Cover photo: Rob Dammers, CC BY

Belgian Railway Manager Asks Drone Pilots To Keep Their Distance From Railways 1

This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

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Wiebe de Jager
Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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