Following up on the press announcement from Transport Canada back in early November regarding “Simpler rules for small unmanned air vehicles” there has been a lot of speculation over what these exemptions are and when and where they apply. Some people have assumed that for the under 2kg class it is basically a free for all allowing commercial use anywhere and everywhere.
However in talking with people that were at the conference and that are in the loop with ongoing talks with the parties involved, the reality of the exemptions are they a bit more defined and may be hard for many operators to meet, thus much of the current SFOC process will be in place for most operations as we understand matters as of today.
For UAVs 2KG and under there will be a list of requirements, around 40 in total, similar to the current SFOC requirements that all must be met for an exemption, including items such as:
- UAV Liability Insurance
- Clear of built up areas
- 8KM from any airport/aerodrome/heliport
- Flight must be under 90 Meters in altitude
- Clear of buildings, cars, boats, roads
- Not flown over people
- A basic knowledge or training on the UAV
For the 2KG-25KG class there will be additional requirements to be met, around 50. There is also a requirement in this class to send an email advising the date and location of the operation, if the exemptions are met.
In all cases, exempt or not, UAV liability insurance will be required
Operators will go online and log in, enter that they comply with all the requirements set out and they will then be considered exempt. The process puts the onus on the operator to say they meet the requirements rather than Transport Canada saying they are exempt.
These exemptions mainly target operators in remote rural areas, focused on farming, mining, forestry, etc. For example, no where within Vancouver would be considered exempt even under 2kg. Most operators will not meet all of the requirements and will still require an SFOC to be filed as is done currently.
This is all subject to change, but based on what we know now this is what the rule change is looking like. Only time and an official announcement from Transport Canada later this month will tell for sure.
As we learn more and when the changes are officially announced we will be sure to post an update. Feel free to comment or provide additional insight that you may have on the topic.