In the past years, an increasing number of incidents has been reported where drones have been used illegally in the vicinity of international airports. It is strictly prohibited by law (§21a Luftverkehrsordnung (German Air Traffic Regulation)) to fly drones within a radius of 1.5 kilometres around German airports. Should drone operations be carried out in spite of this, fines and prison sentences will apply (§315 Strafgesetzbuch (German Criminal Code)).
The only exception to this rule are drone flights with prior special permission of the German Air Traffic Control (DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH) and the district authority of Düsseldorf. If photos and videos are to be taken by the drone, permission must also be obtained from the marketing department of Flughafen Köln/Bonn GmbH.
The most important rules for the use of drones are provided by DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH on the website safe-droneflight.de. The site includes a self-test to check whether the planned drone flight is permitted. In addition, it contains the link to apply for air traffic control clearances at DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH.
DFS also provides a free application for Android and iOS users which informs about regulations for drone flights.
The website of the Civil Aviation Authority summarises important aspects of drone use in German language: