Myth: The odds of getting caught are low so I’ll work with no SFOC.
While it is true that enforcement of the current Canadian UAV regulations have been lacking, there have been multiple known cases of fines being issued to operators that did work without an SFOC in the past year, such as the one in Montreal in Dec 2014. And from what we have heard through the grapevine enforcement is being stepped up and requests for more enforcement officers have been made by TC to take on this new workload.
And while TC may have a limited number of enforcement officers, the industry will self regulate with operators reporting those they see in violation via Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System (CAIRS). See our article Reporting UAV Issues in Canada – CAIRS for more details. (We ourselves were report a year ago while on a shoot that was under an SFOC and NOTAM, TC contacted us to followup and noted it was a competitor that had filed the complaint. Nothing came of it as we were in full compliance.) Self policing will be a large part of things going forward in our view, and is actually for the good of the industry long term, ensuring things are done safely and everyone is aware and in line with the laws.
As we see the industry grow we will also no doubt see an increase in complaints filed by the general public as well, many will no doubt be unfounded, but there will be those that are valid and lead to investigation by TC.
Operating outside the regulations also puts you personally liable in the event of an accident. Insurance will be voided if it was deemed the activity was done outside the laws, which requires an SFOC or Exemption. This more than fear of a fine should be the reasoning for operators to work within the system and not open themselves up to added risk.
If your planning to build a long term viable business in the UAV industry then the only logical safe means to do so is by following the regulations and playing by the book. Anything less makes you liable and open to fines as well as establishing a less than professional business reputation. While the Red Tape may be frustrating, it is all part of working in this industry, and the system does work if you put in the time and effort.