One of the most asked questions we get is “where can we find the SFOC application form?” The simple answer is there is no form. There is also no defined format for the application.
Every applicant creates their own document outlining the details specific to their operation in the format they prefer. There is no defined order to the information either. However logic should be applied to make it as clear and straight forward to understand as possible. The more clear and concise the document the better your chance at it being understood and hopefully approved.
In order to apply for an SFOC, Certificate applicants will be required to create and submit an application in accordance with this SI. Prior to submitting an SFOC application the applicant is expected to assess the risks involved with the proposed operation and include appropriate mitigation measures as part of the application.
What may be confusing is mention of section 7.7 Standard Format for SFOC Cover Letter and 7.8 Standard Format for the SFOC being related to the application, however this is in reference to the letter and certificate the operator will receive from TC, not what they submit.
While there is no defined form or structure, there is defined content that must be included. Section 8 of the Staff Instruction (SI) No. 623-001 covers the elements that the inspectors will be reviewing the application for, and thus the elements that you must include. If the minimum is not met the application may not even be reviewed:
If the SFOC application clearly indicates that the minimum requirements have not been met or if the Inspector requires more information, then the Inspector will not process the application until such time as the application is complete or the applicant can show competency. Once an application has been returned to the applicant, the applicant will need to amend the application and resubmit it. This will result in the application losing its place in the processing queue.
So it is critical that you read the full requirements and make sure all information is provided so as to not face a quick rejection. The requirements and the level of detail contained varies depending on the SFOC application process being utilized, and you must be sure to indicate the application type being submitted, otherwise it will be returned without review:
The Certificate applicant must clearly identify which process they are applying under. Failure to do so will result in delays in receiving approval. To ensure proper use of TC resources, Inspectors receiving SFOC applications that do not clearly identify the process will immediately return the application.
If your applying for the first time, and have no operational history with TC, you will only be able to apply for a limited time frame to basically cover a single defined flight operation. So start with small projects, this will make it easier to define and a smaller undertaking and give you a sense of what TC deems acceptable. From there you can work towards longer and larger operations and build up a safe operating record.
Under all SFOC application processes, initial Certificate applicants are limited to only the validity period required to complete the specifically proposed operation. Longer term validity periods shall not be approved until the UAV operator has gained sufficient experience and demonstrated a history of safe operations.
This applies to Standing or what was often referred to as “blanket” or “open” SFOCs as well. As your safe track record grows over time so will the freedom and flexibility in what you can request in terms of locations and time frames.
A Standing SFOC is issued to allow operations within a defined geographical boundary (e.g. municipality, province, region, etc.) at operating sites that have not been assessed by the Inspector as part of the application. Validity periods may be up to the maximum allowed in section 7.4 above. A Standing SFOC will not be issued until the UAV operator has gained sufficient experience and demonstrates a history of safe operations. Standing SFOCs will not be issued to initial Certificate applicants.
It should be noted that an SFOC cannot be modified or extended once issued, so whatever is defined in the application is what you will be working under, so be sure that it meets your needs, otherwise a new application will need to be submitted for any changes and you will go back into the processing queue to wait for review.