Our team gathered information from the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) to determine whether a permit was necessary for our weather balloon or unmanned free balloon launches. In many instances, no permit was required, making the launch free of charge.

However, you should be aware that depending on the launch site and the weather conditions, your balloon could drift into another country. If this is likely, you need to secure permission from that country beforehand. It is advisable to set a launch window and use our prediction tool to check whether the balloon is expected to leave Switzerland. Launch only if the prediction confirms that the balloon will remain within Swiss borders.

Here are the conditions under which you require a permit for balloon ascents in Switzerland:

- Balloons with flammable gas are prohibited.

- Balloons with a payload over 2 kg or a capacity exceeding 30 m³ are not allowed.

- Launches must not occur within 5 km of civil or military airfields.

Additional conditions apply to balloon launches within 5 km of an airfield:

- The balloon's volume must not exceed 1 m³.

- Balloons with open flames or payloads (except for A5-sized competition answer cards) are prohibited.

- No more than 300 balloons can be released simultaneously.

- Balloons must not be tied together.

If any of these conditions are not met, permission is required from Skyguide or the aerodrome manager.

Contact details for the FOCA and information on securing permissions for drone flights and sky lanterns near airfields are available on FOCA Website.

Our advice is to avoid the hassle and choose a launch site beyond the 5 km radius from any airstrip.

Insurance is also a key consideration. Verify if you need aviation liability insurance, which covers personal injury and property damage. AXA provides a tool for obtaining weather balloon insurance in Switzerland.

Note: Liability insurance with a coverage of at least 1 million Swiss francs is required, except for free balloons with a payload under 0.5 kg and capacity less than 30 m³. In case of accidents, liability generally falls on the individuals responsible for the launch.

You can contact the FOCA at:

Federal Office of Civil Aviation

Papiermühlenstrasse 172 – 3063 Ittigen, Switzerland

Website FOCA Balloons

Email: ballone@bazl.admin.ch

For legal requirements, refer to the SERA.3140 under Annex 2 of Implementing Regulation (EU) No: 923/2012 and Art. 16 of the DETEC Ordinance on Special Category Aircraft. These documents outline the conditions for minimizing risks to people, property, and other aircraft during balloon launches.