Dutch Ministry is investigating provider of counterfeit drone certificates

Drone pilots who think they can obtain an EU drone certificate through a Dutch provider for cheap or even free and without an exam should pay close attention. It seems that a Dutch-language webshop is issuing forged drone certificates. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is investigating the case, in collaboration with the Netherlands Vehicle Authority (RDW) and the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT).

Ingenious process

The investigation was set in motion after advertisements appeared for a new provider of European drone certificates, which, however, was not known to the Dutch authorities. The suspicion soon arose that it was a fraudulent party. Further investigation revealed that the website provides counterfeit EU drone certificates for the Open category A1 / A3. Initially against payment, later the offer was made (possibly temporarily) free.

The process is ingenious: shortly after a customer has placed an order, they will receive a PDF file of a registered drone certificate. However, contrary to the legislation, no training or examination is required. Moreover, the QR code on the certificate does not refer to an official registration system, but to the provider’s website. And the file properties show that the certificates are put together with the help of a photo editing program and not from an automated system.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has announced that the case is being investigated, together with the RDW and the ILT. “To be able to fly safely with a drone, it is in some cases mandatory in the Netherlands to complete an online knowledge test. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has designated a number of flight schools for this. After passing the online knowledge test, the drone pilot requests a flight certificate from the RDW. When checking the flight license, the police can recognize that the flight license has not been correctly obtained and issued. In case of a forgery, the police can start a criminal investigation.”

Check the provider

Drone pilots are advised not to just work with any Netherlands-based provider of EU drone certificates. Low prices, or the promise that no exam has to be taken, should immediately ring a bell. Furthermore, the lack of extensive contact details and a Chamber of Commerce number is an indication that it is a rogue party. An overview of recognized Dutch drone schools can be found on the website of the Dutch government.

In order to prevent further fraud with drone certificates, it is hoped that EASA will quickly launch a centralized European database. Last year EASA announced that drone certificates will be registered centrally in the future.

Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager is the founder of Dronewatch (available in Dutch and English). Wiebe is an experienced drone pilot (RPA-L certified) and has published a number of books about drone photography and cinematography.

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