Frequently asked questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we have been asked with regards to UAVs, our services, and NDVI in particular...
What types of RPAS Ground School Training are there?
We have several courses available, which come in different formats.
Advanced RPAS Ground School is an classroom-based instructor-led 2-day course, plus an additional ~25 hours of online self-study material. This course will prepare you for the Transport Canada Advanced RPAS pilot exam and the Flight Review.
Basic Training RPAS Ground School is an entirely online self-study course which takes ~10-20 hours to work through on your own time. This course will prepare you for the Transport Canada Basic RPAS pilot exam.
RPAS Flight Operations Training is a hands-on full day (8 hours) of practical skills training, operations planning, and preparation for the Advanced RPAS pilot Flight Review.
How much Does the Training Cost?
Advanced RPAS Ground School: $799 per person
Basic Training RPAS Ground School: $299 per person
RPAS Flight Operations Training: $850 per person (max class size of 5)
How long do I have access to the online course materials?
When you sign up for one of our training programs, you will be granted access to the M3 Members Area, membership in the FlyWithM3 Pilot Network, and continuous access for 1 year to the study materials. Subscriptions for ongoing access will be $7.99 per month.
How often do you offer training courses?
We run the training in various locations across Canada on a fairly regular basis. We have instructors situated in Atlantic Canada, the Greater Toronto Area, and across the Canadian Prairies. We are always working on our upcoming schedule of training, and encourage you to check back often if you don’t see that we have a course scheduled for your area currently! Also, let us know that you’re interested, we may just schedule a course based on your interest.
You can view our upcoming course schedule at https://www.m3aerial.com/uav-ground-school/
Is RPAS Ground School training mandatory?
As of June 1st, 2019, it is no longer mandatory to complete RPAS Ground School, as the individual compliant ground school’s are no longer responsible for declaring you as a “commercial RPAS pilot”. We are now responsible for providing you with the content and guiding you towards successfully completing your Advanced RPAS Operations Pilot Certificate exam through Transport Canada.
Is this course Transport Canada Approved?
M3 Aerial Productions are one of only a handful of registered training organizations in Canada that are on the list of Compliant Trainers at Transport Canada. Our program meets the requirements the Transport Canada standards document TP15263, “Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, 250g up to and including 25kg, Operating Within Visual Line of Sight.”
We are one of the few companies in Canada who have undergone a Transport Canada course audit, and received great feedback (see their feedback here!).
Do I still require an SFOC?
Transport Canada implemented the requirement for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) several years ago to respond to the rapidly increasing usage rates of RPAS in Canada. Until June 1st of 2019, it was mandatory for all commercial RPAS operators to possess a SFOC which outlined where, when, and how they were able to operate. As of June 1st, however, Transport Canada has released the new Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, which has effectively removed the blanket requirement for SFOCs. Do they still exist? Yes, but you will only require an SFOC if you wish to operate an RPAS:
greater than 25kg
further than Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)
carrying a payload listed in section 901.43 of the CARs, which identifies substances such as explosives, corrosive or biohazardous (among others) which are not allowed to be carried on an RPAS under regular circumstances
under Part IX of the CARs but are not a Canadian Citizen or Permanent Resident
at an event
above 400ft AGL (above ground level)
that is part of a “swarm” of RPAS exceeding 5 in number
while located within 3 nautical miles of a military aerodrome
Is this course applicable and available outside of Canada?
Yes! Our LIVE Webinar RPAS Ground School version of this course will not only provide you with valuable information to help you run a high quality drone operation, but the knowledge you will gain will enable you to pass most entrance-level RPAS examinations in any of the 191 ICAO (International Civial Aviaition Organization) states around the world!
HOW DO I TAKE THE EXAM?
When you complete both portions of the course - PART 1: The Online Training Package (takes 20-30 hours to complete) as well as PART 2: The In-Class UAV Ground School takes 16 hours spread over 2 full-day sessions (usually weekends from 8:30AM-4:30PM), you will contact us to indicate that you are ready to write the final exam. We will send you a private link where you will be able to access the online, multiple choice final exam.
NOTE: The M3 final exam is only a preparatory exam, designed in a similar format to the Transport Canada exam.
DO YOU OFFER FLIGHT TRAINING ON RPAS SYSTEMS?
Yes, you are able to attend our Flight Training events. You must have completed an RPAS Pilot Ground School in order to be able to participate in our Flight Training program. You'll learn how to program autonomous mapping missions, emergency flight maneuvers, basic aerial photography skills, maintenance procedures, data transferring methods, and much more! Check out our Flight Training section for more information!
WHAT TIME DOES THE TRAINING TAKE PLACE?
We usually run our Advanced RPAS Ground School courses from 0830-1630 on two back-to-back days. Lunch, coffee and snacks are included as we generally work through the lunch hour to maximize our content coverage. Training takes place on weekdays or weekends, though always one or the other.
What is the difference between commercial and recreational drone operations?
In Canada, there used to be a distinction between “Commercial” and “Recreational” applications of drones. Whether you made money from your work or not, Transport Canada deemed that if flying your drone provided benefit to you or anyone else, directly or indirectly, other than for the sheer enjoyment of flying, it was considered a commercial operation.
Thankfully, as of June 1st, 2019, neither of those terms has any application in Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. The “grey area” has been removed, and now every person operating a drone that weighs more than 250g must have passed an online exam issued by Transport Canada. Every time you fly a drone, you must how have that pilot certificate with you, as well as several other important documents.
What are RPAS used for?
Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) are being used in an incredible number of applications. Construction, mining, environmental, real estate, marketing, tourism, security, transportation, and agriculture are among several of the applications.
How are drones used in agriculture?
There are also many applications in Agriculture where drones can provide a huge benefit to the producer. Here are just a few:
- Crop scouting
- Crop health monitoring (largest ROI)
- Field surveying / scouting (before planting)
- Nitrogen recommendations
- Yield monitoring
- Plant stress monitoring
- Drought assessment
- Drainage management
- Topographical mapping
What actionable data will be provided from NDVI crop health analysis?
The data gathered from our NDVI and infrared thermal imaging will help growers assess the following:
- Plant height
- Plant count
- Plant health
- Presence or lack of nutrients, disease and weeds
- Relative biomass estimates
- 3D / Volumetric data (piles, holes, patch, and hills)
- Orthomosaics (georeferenced aerial imaging with homogeneous scale)
What is NDVI?
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. A visual representation of your relative crop health into a familiar colour display system: Red > Yellow > Green. NDVI is only one ingredient in the recipe though, and you still need boots in the field for ground truthing.
It is important to have a strong understanding of the crop varietal, the history of the field, the growth stage, applications, moisture, and temperature.
NDVI makes crop scouting more effective and efficient and is an important component of precision agriculture.
When should I use NDVI on my fields?
NDVI is best used over several months or years to get the best understanding of the growing patterns. In order to get an accurate understanding of the saving / profit as a result of using NDVI, you would likely need to use the services for two or more seasons to draw strong correlations.
NDVI should be used several times throughout the growing season. Between the 2-3 leaf stage of germination, mid-growth, and even prior to seeding. Following a mild winter, you are able to detect damage earlier.
Which crops are best SUITED for utilizing NDVI?
NDVI can be applied extremely well in grain-corn areas as nitrogen requirements often exceed what is applied by seeding time - you can use NDVI to help calculate nitrogen topdressing rates.
Potatoes would also benefit greatly as NDVI can help identify disease or pest outbreaks before they become detrimental.
What can Thermal Infrared Imaging be used for?
M3 Aerial Productions uses the DJI Zenmuse XT by FLIR, a thermal imaging sensor and camera which has several uses in precision agriculture.
Infrared thermal imaging can measure temperature differentials across surfaces to detect / predict water stress in plants, called a CWSI (Crop Water Stress Index).
It is also possible to get an accurate gauge of the relative soil salinity without having to take soil samples.
What is a geo-referenced Orthomosaic map?
When an elevated camera takes a photo, the image's scale becomes warped and distorted from its center point towards the margins. Objects do not appear to be sized accurately, leading to miscalculations of distances, sizes, and volumes.
Our RPAS can take pictures every 0.5 seconds, and our software allows us to stitch together all of the images to create one large image called an orthomosaic. This image is referred to as "geo-referenced" because the scale is homogenous - the same - throughout the entire image.
This is important when creating 3D terrain and volumetric maps. This technology is very useful in agriculture, construction and development, mining, and many other industries.
Why Drones vs. other forms of Aerial services?
Using our drone service will save you precious time. It takes time to train on the operating systems and software. It takes time to set up, fly, process and analyze data, and prescribe solutions based on the data.
M3 Aerial Productions is a leader in the industry, with highly trained pilots who are committed to providing excellent customer service.
Drones provide the highest degree of precision, far superior to satellites, which allows you to assess the data more reliably. This leads to earlier detection of problems.
Why not allow us to help you manage multiple irrigation pivots by doing quick and accurate nozzle inspections.
Why M3 Aerial Productions?
We use the best equipment on the market. We have a diverse fleet of RPAS platforms and sensors. We can provide high resolution colour video and imagery, near infrared (NDVI) crop/vegetation assessments, thermal infrared (heat) assessments, and more.
We provide the highest quality of customer service. You, our customer, are very important to us, and we make sure that you know that.
We will provide you with training and support that you need if you decide to purchase our products.
We are committed to our community. This technology is great for the economy, the environment, and your wallet!