A Canadian UAV Operators Association?

canada1With the rapid growth of UAV operations in Canada, combined with ongoing issues and confusion with understanding the regulations, proper processes and procedures, insurance requirements, and so on, is it perhaps time to consider a commercial UAV operator association for Canada?

As this industry grows it will be critical to have a voice that represents commercial operators from small real estate agents through TV/Film aerial service providers to GIS and related industrial sensing operations. Without a voice the needs and issues of operators may quickly be ignored and overlooked as the big players focus on their place in the larger UAV market.  As well with no consolidated force, the industry will become very disjointed with various groups putting effort towards similar issues but each working in a vacuum unaware of what others may be doing in the same area already.

Currently Unmanned Systems Canada is the main UAV industry voice in Canada.  They have been involved with Transport Canada in drafting the new regulations that have recently been released. Their membership spans a range of organizations, although not directed on the small AP/AV operators from what we have seen to date, with much of the focus on R&D, academic, government, and military areas.

MAAC is focused on non commercial recreational use, and although there is some overlap with people involved commercially and recreationally, they are not in a position to represent commercial use of UAVs.

There are also existing international groups doing much of this now, however as Canadians we are often seen as only a small player on the global stage and thus our interests may not always be a major concern in these larger groups.  Plus the issues we face with government and other factors vary significantly even from our southern US neighbor.

An operator-centric organization could potentially provide the following to it’s members:

  • Represent the interests of operators to regulators and government.
  • Leverage the member base for better insurance coverage and legal assistance.
  • Create a resource for SOPs and related operations specific documents.
  • Sharing the knowledge of membership for peer advice and assistance.
  • Pool of trusted operators to collaborate and recommend for projects across the country.
  • Codes of conduct for members to ensure “professionalism” within the industry and weed out “suspect” operators.
  • Point of contact to media and public to speak on issues and concerns that the industry faces.
  • Promote and develop the industry and public awareness through education and exchange of ideas.

Governments and other outside agencies will always be reactive in nature and behind the curve on technology, so being able to self manage and be an adviser to these regulators and agencies would benefit all members that individually have little power or voice alone. The more the industry can manage itself the less pressure outside bodies will be forced to put on it.

For the long term success of the industry, especially for the smaller independent operators, there needs to be an environment of “co-opetition” to help build a long term healthy and professional industry.  We are in the infant stages of the life cycle right now, and things could go in any direction. If everyone goes it alone we may not even get over the first speed-bumps in the road.

  • What are your thoughts on such an industry association?
  • How would you like to see it developed?
  • What issues are you most concerned with?
  • What benefits would you want to see from an association?

Lets start a dialog and share some ideas on the pros and cons of going in this direction and what are the important factors for you.


  1. I strongly feel that the time has come for an organisation such as the one you mention here. Drone operations in Canada have turned a corner, and things will never be the same.
    The new regulations were put together by a lot of organisations that frankly, have their own agendas.
    I personally feel that they were designed with the interests of every section of the populace at heart except for the operators themselves.TC knew that there is no way to police the incredible number of small aircraft out there, and as a result have put together laws that have enabled local law enforcement to seize and desist many of the non commercial guys out there. An unfortunate by product of that is to effectively hobble, if not cripple, the many of us that have invested time, money and love for what they do and whom take very seriously the art of flying these potentially dangerous aircraft.
    The august (I think) edition of the MAAC magazine was full of editorials from all the regional heads in the country, extoling the hazards of drone flying. The overall feeling I got was that they really have no vested interest in these aircraft, and really don’t seem to equate them to flying a fixed wing model.
    COPA does not now or probably never will extend it’s coverage to UAV aircraft. Their mandate is the representation of GA pilots and regs, and as a member od COPA for a few years, I saw them rigorously involved with Transport Canada on many of the decisions that affect GA pilots in Canada. To me, UAV’s would represent a conflict of interest and a division of loyalty between manned and unmanned aircraft for COPA, and I won’t hold my breath waiting for an invite to that party.
    No, the only way to go is for us to unite, pay our dues and get represented.
    We need aviation lawyers, a voice on the TC rule making by someone who REALLY knows what it means to fly a drone commercially, and most of all we need stability and clarity in all this confusion.
    A unified UAV operators organisation would mean that :

    1. A commercial UAV operator would have the official “stamp” from an organisation. A credential that can be presented to customers to say “This shows our competency, our knowledge and compliance of the rules, our insurance and your safety”
    After all, I would buy a car from a member of the BBB before anyone else…

    2. We have a common voice, to be represented fairly and objectively.

    3. TC is safe in the knowledge that anybody who puts in an SFOC app with the organisation stamp on it KNOWS that the guy is compliant, and that he follows the rules.

    I for one would be happy to pay a fee to be part of it. It’s cheap insurance for me, my company and my future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree also, I think it’s high time for something like this.

    However, there is already an organization similar to what you propose:


    This seems to be restricted to multi-rotors, which is a massive oversight on their part. I fly helicopters and airplanes equipped with flight controllers, not just multirotors. There are plenty of people flying UAV-airplanes in Canada.

    So what are you proposing to do differently than they are? Is there room for both, do they overlap?


    1. I’m proposing the concept at this stage, be it the group you noted or some new group. As mentioned I don’t think it should be multirotor specific as it is far too limiting, making it “UAV Operator” would allow more freedom as to what is included. Only concern with the group mentioned beyond that is it seems to have slowly died, little activity recently although I have heard it is moving forward. We don’t need multiple organizations, just one well run and organized one to represent the needs of operators specifically.


      1. Yes, they claim to have 300 members, but I do not see much activity. For sure, I have not seen much useful info coming from them, such as you have here. In fact, the opposite is true. In November, when rumors were swirling about what the new regulations were going to look like, they stated they knew what was coming as they participated in created them, but would not give any details. I don’t see how that’s serving the members at all.

        Fact is, with the way the rules are now, with operations in remote areas being pushed while operations near built up areas are being heavily restricted, fixed wing will be very important as they will be more suited to doing wide-area work that is likely to occur in remote areas.


      2. I don’t think CMROA had anything to do with the new regs, that was https://www.unmannedsystems.ca/

        Unmanned Systems was the main group involved and did most of the draft creations of the regs as I understand it.

        I’d also be surprised if CMROA had 300 members, maybe 300 Facebook Likes perhaps.


  3. “New regulations coming out in a few days and almost 300 members… CMROA is getting excited, please share to make our community grow!!!”

    I can’t find where they said they were involved in the rules, but I’m pretty sure I remember that right.


    1. Yes I read that too. Think they were merely stating new regs were coming out. As the organization as I understand it is not yet officially active I think they there are any true members, again perhaps Facebook Likes. I would be surprised if there are 300 commercial UAV operators in all of Canada to be honest based on the feedback so far in the SFOC Facebook group poll.

      Their lack of activity makes me think it is stalled. You would need a charter and other documents in order to be an active membership association. I don’t see any of that yet but maybe it is behind the scenes.


      1. I haven’t seen anything where we would sign up officially. I think it’s just a Facebook group, not yet a legal association. Not sure if they ever had plans to become a formal association or not. Frankly, I don’t really even know what that would afford us anyway. Does being a legal association provide any extra power? In my experience, the only thing it does is guarantee a lot of politics and arguing in meetings. 😉 I don’t bother going to my MAAC club meetings because of it.

        Speaking of… I better pay up my MAAC dues.


      2. If it’s not an official association then it will be of no value in terms of any voice or lobbying ability. A bunch of people liking a Facebook page won’t get you very far in any official manner.

        Yes there will be politics in any association of this type but you need to focus on the benefits. If your looking for the bad in everything you wont get too far or be very happy with anything being proposed..


      3. I think you should stop with the “looking for the bad in everything” commentary. If that were true, I wouldn’t have been a major contributor to the largest international UAV development project for the past 3 years. I got to where I am by identifying problems, and helping fix them instead of accepting deficiencies and working within the existing system.


  4. I think you should stop with the “looking for the bad in everything” commentary.
    Who are you talking about, Robert? I don’t see much in the way of that attitude on the SFOC group or here. I do see a bunch of guys who have just had their livelihoods severely curtailed by a set of unrealistic rules put together by working groups that don’t have commercial operators interests looked after. We are rightfully scorned.
    It’s hard not to work within the deficiencies when you have been rendered toothless by agencies that didn’t approach the problem from all angles.


    1. Chris, the statement was directed to Mark, who seems to repeat it in response to every one of my comments lately.

      You and I seem to be in agreement about your feelings. And a great many others.


      1. Your free to disagree and/or leave. But we don’t need the drama. I’ve see enough of that on RCGroups. Keep it productive and moving forward. I don’t want to stagnate arguing over minute issues.

        Leave the egos at the door or move on.


      2. I agree about the drama. I saw it to the inth degree in a 53 member strong GA flying club. We met once a month at the legion to decide where we would fly to breakfast on sundays, what poker rally we would do, and so forth. In the end, it was just a bunch of different groups within the club just disagreeing about everything and all of them ended up doing their own thing. The club broke up eventually, nobody won.
        Lets keep it above the table and stay friends. It’s the only way to get anywhere.


  5. Going back to the association, I am a little concerned that only 6 people have so far shown that they are commercial operators. There may be 25 intending to begin operations, but with the new rules, I can’t help wondering how many will fall by the wayside. I have just started the PPL ground school, and it is over 100 separate courses. Daunting to say the least.
    I just don’t know if we would be able to get the numbers needed to actually have a strong voice in the industry without joining an existing organization.
    The setting up is also another hurdle. At the moment I just don’t have the time to set anything in motion, and I bet many of us are in the same boat, trying to balance family, business and the other stuff life throws at us.
    I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic.


    1. That is where this will potentially fall down. Not enough actual potential members. A lot of the people interested don’t do commercial work at this stage and hard to say how serious those thinking are. It’s hard to get a real sense of how many active operators there are to be honest.

      It is a not a simple or easy business to get into. Not the get rich quick process some I fear think it is.

      Reality is it take a lot of research, hard work, and money to break into the industry. And your looking at years to make any real profit.

      That is why I think we need to work together to help develop things for the long term. But maybe we aren’t at the stage to have enough critical mass yet to form an association?


      1. Yes and in a sense it was. I’ve no doubt that part of the thought process in the new regs was that a lot of the issues would go away as many would give up an/or not qualify under the new regs. The same as any industry really. It’s not some massive conspiracy.

        No matter how easy or difficult the barriers to entry in any market, some will find a way, some will not. Regulations merely set the standards as to who and how many get in.

        People need to keep in mind that TC isn’t in this to make it easy for people to do business. Regulations aren’t about making business easy – https://blog.flitelab.com/2014/12/30/the-regulation-game/


  6. “Regulations – a legal norm intended to shape conduct that is a byproduct of imperfection…Regulation creates, limits, constrains a right, creates or limits a duty, or allocates a responsibility.”


  7. My own small grain of salt on the issue: the fact that our drone operators community is not organized plays against us and the development of our “startup” industry. Transport Canada is currently on a successive approximations curve to solve their air safety equation and we are just spectators, when we could get involved and help them instead.

    Seems clear to me that Unmanned Systems is a big players industrial thing who, by definition have no problems operating on blanket SFOCs. It is about time we together make appropriate representations to TC to get better flying conditions than Mr and Mrs nobody who flies for fun… after all, aren’t we supposed to be more serious, organized and secure?

    The least we can do here is to gather together and exchange contact info to at least make a group of canadian business drone operators, we’ll see where it leads us.

    André Verville
    Kildir Technologies/Photo-Metrique


  8. As the current Chairman of Unmanned Systems Canada (USC), I would like to weigh in on this discussion. USC has been able to move the yardstick of UAS regulation in Canada by working with TC and our members since 2006. We have worked very closely with Transport Canada to keep the original ability to fly commercially through SFOCs yet get a better definition of what is required, particularly for the long sought after “file and fly”. The 2 kg and below exemption is based in large part on our original “low energy RPAS” recommendations although has become more stringent than we had expected.

    We have a long way to go still, and we need to represent all the operators, large and small, to be effective! Aside from working to improve the exemptions, clarify the current regulations, and push for uniformity of application throughout Canada, we are also working on future beyond line of sight requirements. We have a solid relationship with TC, we are a registered lobby group, and we want to do what is best for the entire sector.

    We will be conducting a survey of reactions to the latest changes in the next month, and we will be reaching out to as many operators as we can find. Like any organization, we represent our members – we would sincerely welcome you to join us and help us get the best environment that we can for this sector.


      1. Glad to hear that you think our price is reasonable. We hope that our prices are in general commensurate with the values each offering provides -although it is always a struggle to keep prices down.


  9. Thanks Stewart for the positive feedback to my not so positive comment to USC of which I am a member by the way. I ran close to participate in the last USC conference in Mtl but the subscription fees alone were somewhat hefty. Too bad. I have been in “investment” mode for 2 years now and need to control the expenses… I believe this is the case for many of us….. please read: “frustrated from being out because of money”.

    Obviously TC listens to USC, but the results I see are lagging behind today’s reality. Proof: this 9km from built-up areas rule for which they interpret built-up as in “Nowhere Village”. This small clause itself in the lower left corner of their flyer makes it impossible for any of us to fly legally between 2 villages that are 18km apart without a SFOC, while any amateur can in the neighbourhood park… In French, we use to say: “le ridicule ne tue pas”, this is a chance for many.

    First, I think that 1. TC should require any commercial drone operator to become a member of an association and 2. Make it such that this association provides training and certification services. If Unmanned Systems wants to go there and support it towards TC, I’ll gladly participate in the Québec training branch…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Forget two villages 18km apart. Just two houses close together. I’ve driven just about every highway and backroad in southern Ontario, and I can tell you that it would be extremely difficult to find a place that meets this criteria. It is very common for farmers to subdivide a couple acres of land along a roadway to allow a few houses to be built on 1-5 acre lots. This then constitutes a “built-up area”. You just cannot get 9km away from every instance of this. Ditto cottages in forested areas.

      It’s interesting to hear that the Exemption rules that came out are not what was expected by even the USC.


    2. The 5 nm buffer from built up areas for 2 kg and below uav “for an exemption” does seem “stringent”, although the normal SFOC route still exists. We must keep in mind, however, that the 2kg and below exemption requires absolutely no interaction between the operator and the regulator – a situation that is probably challenging for TC to adopt and unique in the world…. and the exemption conditions can be changed as experience with them grows.

      The 5nm buffer will be an area where we would like to see further consideration and imagine it will be a key point of response in our upcoming survey.

      The compliant operator route is a much more demanding approach, but reflects the broad range of capabilities that will be granted when one gets through this maze…. it will probably not be the route for everyone!

      Regarding our members only material – we are always challenged to keep up, particularly as most of us are volunteers with other commitments.


      1. IMO, this really is the single most important issue facing us right now. Much of the situation can be rectified by getting TC to accept a more reasonable definition of “built-up” area. Really there should be 2 different population density classifications, for the <2kg and 2-25kg classes.

        I understand that TC has no interaction in the Exemption case and this is what makes them nervous. But they also have no interaction in the recreational use case. This has been the case for 100 years, and to the best of my knowledge, no 3rd party has ever been seriously injured due to this usage.


  10. Stewart – Thank you for the post here, valuable information for operators that may be looking for organization to provide some guidance and voice in the industry.

    The main concern a lot of us smaller operators have is if we are being represented and accounted for when things like the TC SFOC changes come about. I think it is safe to say that the exemptions came off to many as a major disappointment, basically unusable for the majority of AP/AV businesses due to the 5nm restriction from built up areas. As we have discussed directly, the SFOC changes have impacts us and others directly with the way they were rolled out and implemented basically over night, putting some of our business on hold. And the new regulations will no doubt put some of out business or turn many off due to the amount of red tape now involved. Things like the letter of compliance for the aircraft themselves, required for a Complaint Operator Application, are a big unknown at this stage with many wondering if and how they can get their gear approved and if this may be slanted to aid Canadian UAV manufacturers such as Draganfly and Aeryon Labs, which are not used by many in the AP/AV end of the industry. Granted all industries have red tape, it just seems like the current application of these regulations aren’t focused on the smaller operators.

    From your organization directly I’d like to see more resources for members. The current members only content is very dated and of limited value. Some reference material, templates, etc for the SFOC process and related would be of great help. Also more timely and frequent updates on the state of the industry would also be nice to see and definitely a bit more focus on AP/AV providers.

    It is a fast paced industry with technology changing daily, it will be interesting to see how the regulations and such organizations can keep up and serve the industry at all levels.

    Mark Langille


    1. Mark, I agree. Now that I can see the member content, much of it is very outdated. Personally, I think a lot of the content you have generated recently would be a great addition to their website.


      1. I’ve been a member for the past few years. To be totally honest none of the member info was of value. Everything we learned we basically found on our own. That is part of the reason I’ve post so much to the blog as there is little else out there.


      2. Understood. But I think you might benefit the industry more by helping an existing organization rather than trying to start another.

        Looking at the list of members, I’m really surprised that companies like Draganfly is only a Bronze member, and Aeryon is just associate? That tells me that there’s not going to be a lot of demand in the market for another upstart organization.


      3. I wasn’t proposing I start a new organization, merely brought up the idea for discussion. Pros and cons for different options.

        One of the issues I see now with USC is it is too broad and wants and needs of various members conflict. I think an operator-centric org is needed to properly address the concerns of those folks vs manufacturers, academic, government.


  11. I am not sure that I agree with “too broad and the wants and needs of various members conflict.” To date our challenge has been getting a clear picture of the “wants and needs” and I am not aware of a single instance where any one perspective conflicted with another. We all want to grow the sector, and build Canada as a global leader. This “pie” is growing dramatically – there will be more than enough slices for everyone if we work together.

    …and I am sure we could find a way that any group, such as small UAS operators, could have a voice and a greater influence on the organization’s actions.

    btw – it was only when it was decided by TC that USC represented the sector that they started have meetings with us at the higher levels.

    …and anyone can correspond to me directly via chair@unmannedsystems.ca if they have questions/concerns outside the area of this discussion.


    1. It would definitely be an advantage to have a larger organization that can work for everyone and have more of a voice.

      Hopefully we will see more development with USC then on the operator side and updated information and resources. I would perhaps start with updating the website with newer information and more frequent updates. The last newsletter for example is Feb 2014. The TC Regulations Update section is dated September 2012. Even the look at feel of the site is very dated. Anyone looking to it would think it was an outdated government site. It does not scream innovation and advanced technology.

      The conference is probably the biggest most useful item USC handles, unfortunately many of us small operators can’t always afford the time or cost to attend. Perhaps look at some options to live stream or video record for after the fact access. Also an operator-centric stream for the session would be good as well.

      This industry moves at a break neck speed, yearly updates are honestly of no value. I’d like to see something monthly, if not weekly, be it even a simple blog post on current happenings in the Canadian industry, news, issues, fines, etc. A resource that members can look too on a regular basis. From there build on the document resources for members as I noted prior.

      Perhaps it would make sense to have some regional chapters or groups to allow for local meetings and discussions and to help represent members to regulators, media, etc in the area.

      A code of conduct for members/operators might be another useful addition to the association, to give it some control and management of reliable, safe, membership.

      Not trying to be too critical here, just observations from what I have seen and watched over the last few years and a few ideas off the top of my head.

      As I have stated prior, to date other than a draft look at the new regulations there really hasn’t been much value for the membership I have found.


      1. Full agreement with you Mark. I have started a direct exchange with Stuart Baillie but hope we exchange emails to pursue out of the public space what is not required to be also broadcasted to the universe. 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll add as well a USC Twitter account and Facebook page would be a good idea for quick updates and happenings. There are MANY operators unaware that the USC even exists. The more you can leverage popular social channels the more potential to grow the membership as well as better disseminate information. This is especially true now that TC has become so active on social media with their posts and paid ads.


      3. Agree also. But I’m going to guess that what USC needs is more member participation, not competition. And I’ll also guess that the last thing TC wants, is to have to deal with a second organization. 😉

        You’re right though, that this industry is moving at break-neck speed. I’d bet that this time next year, collisions won’t be as much of a concern. 😉


  12. To be truly of value and have a true voice I feel any association has to be active and engaging both within and outside the direct membership and industry. A large part of it is educating and informing the public and media as well as lobbying.


  13. One item to note in regards to membership is that a large portion of new UAV users are very young. They are not ex industry/military, may have little previous business experience, often the most unaware of the UAV regs etc. And will be the user base that grows the fastest in the months and years ahead. Beyond the student competition, which is more engineering university focused, I think there needs to be some outreach to these folks. Bring in people outside of pure analytic areas, the video production crowd and related.

    Dealing with a large association I have as a client on the IT/marketing side I’m aware of the pressures to hold and grow membership, and the younger group has far different touch points than existing older membership bases in many cases.

    Again, leveraging more popular social channels and being more active in media and public UAV concerns will go a long way to reaching these people.


    1. I have to agree with most of the material in the last few posts…. the means that Unmanned Systems Canada uses to reach its members, and our overall use of the new media are in need of great repair…. this is just another symptom of the growth of our entire sector – limited resources and a huge number of things to do! I am pleased to announce that with the newly elected members of the board (Nov 2014) we have started to turn this ship around – a new web site, use of blogs and twitter, better use of our LinkedIn group and other such things are being worked on now…. hopefully you will be able to notice some improvements soon. (perhaps you can note my presence on this blog as one such step?)

      Our presence in the main stream / conventional media is up, but we need to do more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One issue that I think needs to be fixed, and played a large part in my not getting involved, is the way the organization seems to be locked down until you are a member. Previously, nothing was visible on your website, this type of thing does not attract people to join. I understand there is a need and desire to keep some discussions and info behind closed doors. But it doesn’t all need to be.


      2. I have no real issue with that. Pretty common for most associations. Membership grants access. There is public facing information (which needs to be improved on the site) and member information. The bigger concern I have is the information behind the paid wall is dated and not of great value in it’s current form.


      3. The public information should emphasize all the good things about UAV’s. Search and Rescue, energy conservation, environmental research, etc. All the feel-good things about UAV’s. (probably best not to mention security)


      4. Out of curiosity, how much money does everyone here think it would it take to really get USC to the next level? $1million? $5million? By “next level” I mean:
        – a website that’s updated daily
        – a fully functional member’s forum
        – online training courses
        – “swag” shop (tshirts, hats, etc)
        – regular media interviews across the country
        – regional offices (there’s no way USC could service the whole country from a single location, at least split it in half to start)

        I’ll admit that as an IT guy, the first thing I’d like to see is an online forum, even before the rest of the website. The UAV industry is closer to a tech industry than engineering or robotics, both of which are usually generations behind the rest of the tech world (every time an oilfield instrumentation tech asks me for a serial-USB adapter I cry a little).

        *Brief intro from the new guy: My brother and I are working on starting a small UAV business in Northern Alberta. My background is IT, my brother is currently a student, and our dad (he’ll be consulting only) is a private pilot (30+ years).


      5. I’m still on the fence if USC is the best way forward to be honest. The issues around compliance and how it is tailored to manufacturers gives me concern. While I understand the need for safety I’m also not naive enough to not see that everyone has agendas to best suit their position. Time will tell how this plays out.

        As for the website and related, IT software and web development is my background as well. The current USC site is a sad display for a cutting edge technology organization. I think getting it up to speed with updated information as well as better engagement with social channels is critical if it is meant to be the face of the UAV industry in Canada.


      6. Taylor

        I appreciate your suggestions for improvement and will take them to the board. By the way, we do have a LinkedIn group, which can serve as a forum of sorts (I just put something up their earlier today)



      7. “The current USC site is a sad display for a cutting edge technology organization.”

        I agree that it’s a sad display, but based on what I’m seeing and hearing it’s because their mindset is more like…I don’t even know what to compare it to…that of an industry that changes much more slowly. I wonder if some of the tech related stuff would proceed faster if they have a few IT background board members. No offense to anyone, just pointing out that techies tend to tackle techie things much quicker than anyone else 😉

        That being said, it’s not rocket science (almost a pun?) to set up a forum. You can get a fully scalable, fully manged vbulletin solution for a few hundred bucks a month, and task a few dedicated volunteers with moderating duties. Then we’d at least have a central location for discussion; not that I mind having discussions here in your comments section 😛

        Looking for manpower? I’ll run it. Heck, I’ll even pay for it once our business is up and running! At least until USC gets their feet under them. They wouldn’t even have to wait until their site is rebuilt; we can set it up as an external site and they can slap a link on their homepage.

        Even the combine guys are out doing us: http://www.thecombineforum.com/


  14. Wow, what an open discussion! Amazing also that it is on a private firm’s blog portion, btw thanks flitelab.com for hosting it in the absence of other Canadian place for such public discussions.

    I am in doubt that USC, given its “official” membership comprised of manufacturing industry, public officials and the like, could easily host the diversity of opinions that can become at times unflattering to Transports Canada. I’d like to be reassured if this would be the case but I’d also like to see some commitment to build a training and certification process for Canadian drone operators, something that would be recognized by Transports Canada.

    Why am I so impatient? Because things are going so fast i’m about to think of using the word tsunami. I have been hired to provide training for Québec Land Surveyors in February. The training is organized and paid by the “Ordre des Arpenteurs-Géomètres du Québec”, the official body that regulates the surveying practice in Québec in the context of mandatory continued training for those professionals. The one-day training session (all in French and limited to Registered Québec Land Surveyors for now), called “Levés aéroportés par drones” or “Drone Based Airborne Surveys” if it had an English title, will cover all the aspects of the question, except flying and operating any UAV brand or model in particular, of course. I was recently told there is already more than 400 registrations to this one-day event, distributed amongst 5 major Québec cities (Rimouski, Québec, Drummondville, Montréal and Gatineau) with additional days in both Montréal and Québec recently confirmed because the 100-people rooms were already booked. How big is it? A large surveying equipment company that offers drone based surveying equipment will be at the conference room door with a commercial booth to show off its products…

    Just imagine how many people will knock at USC and Transports Canada doors when the flying season starts…


    1. I hope your course will be based on the Transport Canada document “Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Unmanned Aircraft Systems” TP15263.

      I wish you success – this sort of training is essential for the growth of our sector!

      Stewart Baillie, Chair, USC.


      1. As I underlined briefly in my previous post, flight training is not part of the course program but we will for sure cover the air space and security aspects of the question (with TP15263 in mind, of course). In only one day, we need also to cover many other aspects like UAV platform selection (fixed or rotating wings, advantages and disadvantages of each), cameras, sensors and stabilization mechanisms, radio control and telemetry, flight planning and ground control systems, respect of privacy and most importantly a complete review of photogrammetry tools and techniques that have rendered possible the use of smaller consumer grade cameras and sensors for accurate 3D positioning and measurement. Computer based image correlation technologies have rendered small airborne camera platforms a must for most high accuracy and small area surveying projects like stockpile volume measurements, road and linear infrastructure construction projects, etc. This is just the beginning since many of us are already aware that those image processing technologies are just starting to be used for accident reports and crime scenes as well.

        Hoping these explanations just add to the urgent need for pure UAV flight training and certification based on air space regulations, security and also on the use of a UAV model in particular, like the rest of the manned aircraft industry does.


    2. Andre,

      Congratulations on the training event! I teach a few computer classes on the side, and it’s definitely a rewarding experience that ends up teaching me as much as my students. Not only that, but you also get to lead a group of people that will be helping to pioneer a cutting-edge industry in our country.

      It sounds like the day is already going to be a long one with all of the information to convey, but I’d like to add one more thing that should probably touched on: the SFOC system. You don’t necessarily need to explain the entire system; just briefly explain that almost every commercial UAV flight needs to be covered by an SFOC, that there are different “levels” of SFOCs, and that the first piece of information they should seek out is the required documentation from the UAV manufacturer (Statement of Conformity and Deceleration of Compliance). Maybe you could ask the surveying equipment company that you mentioned would be present about these documents?


  15. Been waiting now for 2 days for access to the USC group on LinkedIn. Again there needs to be better and more timely access and interfacing with membership via these social channels. Many potential members will be turned off not to return. You have a small window to covert visitors to members; first impressions are critical.


    1. I applied on a Friday and was accepted the following Monday.

      I think Stewart of USC is operating their social media himself (someone correct me if I’m wrong). Any organization that wants to expand and grow needs to delegate their social media (and other electronic means of communication) to someone less busy so things like accepting new members to the LinkedIn group in a timely manner.

      I still think an online forum would be best…and I’m willing to fund and run it for the time being…if anyone wants to discuss this idea with me further I can be reached at: taylor AT digitaldoctor DOT ca


      1. Yes the way it is being run now is not efficient, practical, or effective. I’m not sure having yet another forum is the answer either. The issue is not a technological one but a management one.

        I work in IT as well, setting up a forum or this blog for example is simple and could be done in little to no time. Building the community and drawing new members is the hard part.

        I know USC is working to improve this but the window of opportunity is quickly closing. A slow moving bureaucracy built around government, R&D, military membership and leadership I still don’t think is going to draw the younger dynamic people that are most often involved in the operations side of this industry, out there shooting photo and video, working with production houses, and marketing groups. Right now they are opposite ends of the spectrum in my opinion.


      2. …not running the social media side myself but will forward this comment to those volunteers running it for USC. Hopefully your requests to join will be acted on shortly.

        As we try to change, we are struggling to adapt new habits…. by the way, more of our newsletters are now posted on the web site.



    1. Ok I finally got access this afternoon. Not a lot there, most of it a year old. No discussions around operators or related topics. Again it seems all very government/R&D/manufacture centric. Hopefully this will change but I’m honestly not hopeful. I think there needs to be some outreach to operators and see what interest there is and how USC can help this segment.


  16. Hi. Three years since last post. Has anything come of this? Just moving into doing work with UAV and want to be safe and legal


    1. No we did not go ahead with forming an association. USC basically dominates this currently and has the ear of TC. Trying to organize operators is also a challenge given the nature of the industry and the cut throat approach some take.


      1. Also a bit late. Us small operators did not get much attention from TC and they are still understaffed to process anything from us during the operating season. Hoping the new regulations will ease things but if past speaks for itself, I am not very optimistic. Since those 3 years, I realized with one of my clients that those SFOC delays were more than a nightmare for our aerial photo missions, they were simply a roadblock.

        We decided then to go the “manned” route and created TopoPix, an aerial photography system based on Cessna aircrafts. We can now do our work while dealing only with Nav Canada: flight plans recorded in a matter of hours and real people answering the phone instead of a TC analyst’s phone mail that gets a follow-up a few weeks later if you are in sufficient luck to get any. It feels different not being considered as a nuisance and security risk.

        Drones will no longer being seen as a nuisance when they will be “full patch” participants in the air space control mechanisms: displayable on radar screens, identifiable by the means of a certain type of transponder and with a reliable and permanent radio contact between pilots and towers. This is perhaps 5-10 years from now, in the meantime, we will continue to disturb and get kicked off the system if too small a player.


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