Transport Canada PNR FAQ

As part of the recently released new SFOC templates and procedures for the PNR region, some FAQs were included as part of the documentation.  These are presented here for easier access and clarity as they provide useful insight into a number of common concerns and questions.

QUESTION          How do I contact Transport Canada for information on UAV’s

ANSWER              Several methods of obtaining information are available.  You may look for information on the Transport Canada Website at if this site does not answer your questions; contact the Prairie Northern Region UAV email at


QUESTION          What area is covered by PNR?

ANSWER              Prairie Northern Region covers operations within Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nunavut, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.  Inquiries regarding operations in all other regions should be directed to those regional offices directly.


QUESTION          What is an SFOC and do I need one?

ANSWER              An SFOC is a Special Flight Operations Certificate.  All non-recreational UAV operations require an SFOC or a valid exemption to operate.  Do not confuse non-commercial with recreational.  Recreational use is use for the purpose of personal enjoyment or as a hobby.  If you derive any benefit other than personal enjoyment from the operation of a UAV, you require an SFOC or an Exemption.  Use of a UAV for training for a business venture is not recreational.  If you are a photographer by trade and you give free pictures away that you have taken from a UAV, there is potential benefit to your business in terms of promotion and therefore it is non-recreation.  These examples are not all inclusive.


QUESTION          I want to start an aerial photography business using my UAV.  What are the requirements to obtain an SFOC?

ANSWER              To operate safely you first need to educate yourself about UAV Operation.  The Canadian Air Regulations govern the operation of UAV’s in Canada.  These regulations are designed to ensure public safety and are complex.  The first recommended step is to educate yourself.  Several companies throughout Canada offer UAV specific training.  We recommend you take one or more of the courses available.  Unmanned Systems Canada maintains a list of education providers within Canada on their website at . Transport Canada does not endorse nor certify any of the course providers listed, but we do believe that any education on this subject is better than none at all.  Your safety and that of the general public is paramount.  The next step is to apply for an SFOC or operate under one of the two exemptions published on the Transport Canada website.


QUESTION          How long does it take for my application to result in issuance of an SFOC?

ANSWER              Transport Canada PNR region strives to issue an SFOC within 20 days of receipt of a completed application.  A completed application is one which provides all the information that an inspector requires to deem your operation to be safe and in accordance with SI 623-001. Processing times are variable dependant on the number of applications in the queue and the quality of information provided.  Typically, once an inspector begins reviewing your application (s)he will probably contact you for clarification or to request more information.  The speed with which your application progresses is dependent on the information you provide and the speed with which this is done.  Delays in submitting requested information will result in delays in issuance of an SFOC.


QUESTION          What is an EXEMPTION?

ANSWER              An exemption is a document published by Transport Canada exempting UAV Operators from the requirement to obtain an SFOC for non-recreational operations.  There are currently two exemptions available regarding UAV operations.  These may be found at .  Non-recreational operators may operate under the applicable exemptions provided they are able to comply with every condition contained without exception.  All of the terms in the documents must be understood and complied with.


QUESTION          How do I report suspected illegal UAV activity?

ANSWER              If you feel the activity is posing a threat to safety, call your local law enforcement agency immediately.  If the complaint is more of a general matter that needs to be investigated, use the Civil Aviation Issues Reporting System (CAIRS) which can be found at


QUESTION          Can I use the UAV exemptions if I currently hold an SFOC?

ANSWER              Yes.  SFOC holders are welcome to use the exemptions where they apply.  You are bound by whichever of the documents you are using in the conduct of each particular operation.


QUESTION          What is an AERODROME?

ANSWER              “aerodrome” – means any area of land, water (including the frozen surface thereof+) or other supporting surface used, designed, prepared, equipped or set apart for use either in whole or in part for the arrival, departure, movement or servicing of aircraft and includes any buildings, installations and equipment situated thereon or associated therewith.


QUESTION          What is considered to be a “BUILT-UP AREA”

ANSWER              A built-up area is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “having many buildings in a small area”.  Transport Canada does not provide a definition of a built-up area within the CARs, but in the exemption ( ) regarding UAV operations near built-up areas, the following guidance is given: “Built-up areas are considered areas with groups of buildings or dwellings including anything from small hamlets to major cities. Anything larger than a farmstead should be considered a built up area.”


QUESTION          What is Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)?

ANSWER              Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) – means unaided (corrective lenses and/or sunglasses exempted) visual contact with the UAV sufficient to be able to maintain operational control of the aircraft, know its location, and be able to scan the airspace in which it is operating to decisively see and avoid other air traffic or objects.


QUESTION          If operating under an exemption, must I notify the Minister for every flight?

ANSWER              You do not have to notify the Minister for every flight, as long as the geographical location, which you have provided to the Minister (notified the Minister) that you are operating in remains the same and the UAS remains the same.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s