It wasn’t that long ago that international headlines were circulating about a certain drone operator in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories who decided that the rules didn’t apply in his case. If you are not familiar with the story, it is worth the read!
But this post is not about what has happened in the past under a highly complex and confounding set of drone regulations, with recreational and commercial distinctions, exemptions of, and special conditions…
This post is about new beginnings. New opportunities.
On June 1st, 2019, Transport Canada’s enforcement of drone operations looks very different than what we’ve experienced in the past, as the new Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations comes into force.
The changes brought by the new regulatory framework are too numerous to list off and explain in this post, however, if you fly drones in Canada, you should read through the regulations at the link above very carefully. It only takes about an hour of your time, and is well worth it!
3 Major Changes from the Old to New Drone Regulations in Canada
1. No More “Commercial / Recreational” Operations. Now, Only “Advanced vs. Basic Operations”:
Every person operating a drone between 250g up to and including 25kg must have either an Advanced or Basic RPAS Operations Pilot Certificate. You must write your exam on the Transport Canada Drone Management Portal. They cost $10 each to write.
- Advanced: Operations taking place in controlled airspace, and/or within 100ft of people not associated with the operations, and while using a Transport Canada “safety assured” drone (a list of which can be found here), and pilots must be at least 16 years of age and possess an Advanced RPAS Operations Pilot Certificate or be directly supervised by someone who has said certificate.
- Basic: Operations must take place only in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace, and not within 100ft of people not associated with the operations. You may use any RPAS, provided it is registered (see #2 below) with Transport Canada. Pilots must be at least 14 years of age and possess a Basic RPAS Operations Pilot Certificate or be directly supervised by someone who has said certificate.
2. No More Names On Drones. Now, All Drones Must Be Registered
As of June 1st, if you fly a drone in Canada that weights more than 250 grams, you will need to register it. If you want to register your drone in Canada, you may do so through the Transport Canada Drone Management Portal. Don’t worry, it is a fairly simple process and only costs $5 per drone to register. Once registered, you must label your drone with the registration number. Simple as that!
3. No More SFOC’s…. Just Kidding!
The new system aims at drastically reducing the number of Special Flight Operations Certificates required for “standard” types of operations. They have outlined 9 situations where you will still need to apply for an SFOC, but fortunately, the application form has been revamped and the process streamlined so it is less of an administrative burden! Here is when you will require an SFOC:
- Flying an RPAS that weighs more than 25 kg
- Flying Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS)
- Flying above 400ft AGL (above ground level)
- Flying over events
- Flying within 3 nautical miles of a DND (Department of National Defense) aerodrome
- Flying an RPAS carrying an explosive, corrosive, flammable, or bio-hazardous payload, or with weapons, ammunition attached, or if it could create a hazard to aviation safety or cause injury to persons, or if the payload is attached by means of a line.
- If the pilot is not a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
- Flying at a special aviation event, such as an air show
- Flying MORE THAN 5 RPAS in a swarm (yes, you are now allowed to operate a swarm of RPAS provided the systems are designed to be operated as a drone swarm, and with no more than 5 systems in the swarm!)
As you can see, this is not something that can be communicated easily through a simple infographic… there are many subtle nuances that you must be aware of, and you still must have an understanding of aviation principles, airspace, and how to communicate effectively with the authorities (NAV CANADA, Transport Canada).
Transport Canada requires all RPAS pilots to understand the Knowledge Requirements for “Pilots of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, 250g up to and including 25 kg Operating Within Visual Line of Sight,” also known as TP 15263. This document can be found online here, and outlines everything you need to know to operate an RPAS as either a Basic Operator or Advanced Operator.
We Recommend that you consider registering for a Transport Canada compliant RPAS Ground School, which will provide you with the knowledge and the ability to complete the exams and operate RPAS safely and effectively in Canada.
Major regulations in place are covered in our Ground School courses. Register today for a live webinar or a self-learning course.