No Drone Zone Clarification from Transport Canada

Back in mid June Transport Canada announced a new #nodronezone campaign around drones and use near airports. With that came much confusion around the underlying regulations and what was an actual offense.  For clarification we reached out to Transport Canada and received the following reply last week.  As has been previously mentioned there was no change in the actual regulations and the #nodronezone is a guideline only, 9KM distance to an aerodrome is not a violation in and of itself.

Thank you for contacting the Transport Canada Civil Aviation Communications Centre.

In regards to your inquiry, please find the response below.

Recreational Activities

Operating a model aircraft (recreational drone) within 9km of an aerodrome would be a violation of CAR 602.45 if the aircraft was being operated in a manner that is hazardous to aviation safety. The 9km (5nm) guideline is provided as guidance on how a recreational user of an unmanned aircraft (a model aircraft by definition) can comply with section 602.45 of the CARs which governs the operation of model aircraft. This regulation states “No person shall fly a model aircraft or a kite or launch a model rocket or a rocket of a type used in a fireworks display into cloud or in a manner that is or is likely to be hazardous to aviation safety”. The guidelines were provided to help those that are less familiar with aviation with how to operate their aircraft in a safe manner. This will keep these aircraft out of most control zones and away from concentrations of manned aircraft. As stated, the 9km (5nm) direction is only guidelines and not a regulations.

Another option, besides our guidelines, would be for such users to operate under a set of community based safety practices such as those provided by the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) which represents model aircraft enthusiast across Canada.

Non-recreational Activities

For those using an unmanned air vehicle (UAV), where an unmanned aircraft is being used for any non-recreational purpose (academia, first responders, commercial, media, etc), the regulatory requirement is that those operators must apply for and obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada prior to operating. An application for an SFOC is reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure the applicable risks are mitigated and a stringent set of conditions are mandated to ensure the operation can be conducted safely. These conditions are created to ensure the safety of other airspace users and people/property on the ground. Some of the conditions that would be required to protect other airspace users would include, for example, minimum distances from airports, maximum permitted altitudes, approved Classes of airspace, communication/coordination requirements with ATC, emergency procedures, etc. Additionally, UAV SFOCs contain conditions that require that the UAV to remain within Visual Line-of-Sight of the UAV pilot/visual observer, requiring the UAV pilot /visual observer to be able to see not only their aircraft but the airspace surrounding the UAV, and that the UAV always give way to all other aircraft.

One exception to the SFOC requirement stated above, would be the UAV Exemptions Transport Canada provided in late 2014. These exemptions permit certain lower-risk UAV operations, such as those conducted in rural areas, to be conducted without an SFOC. The exemption is only valid in areas that are 5nm (9km) from built-up areas (i.e. cities, towns, villages, etc), 5nm (9km) from any aerodrome (i.e. airport, heliport, helipad, seaplane base, etc) and in Class G airspace.

I trust that the foregoing has addressed your questions. Should you need other information on civil aviation matters, please feel free to contact us via email at

Again, thank you for writing.

Kind regards,

Program Information Officer / Agente d’information des programmes Transport Canada Civil Aviation Communications Centre/ Centre de communications de l’Aviation civile, Transports Canada
1 800 305-2059
Facsimile / Télécopieur 613-957-4208
TTY / ATS (613) 990-4500
Place de Ville (AARCB), Ottawa ON K1A 0N5
Government of Canada / Gouvernement du Canada


  1. So can someone clarify this for me?

    Assume that I have a recreational drone, and am following the best practices of MAAC for park flying, I can fly within 9 km of an airport as long as I am not endangering air traffic or people?


  2. This makes me both happy and concerned. Strange I know. It does open up some areas that I couldn’t fly before which is a good thing. The concern is that over the past few years many people have purchased higher-end or semi-professional UAVs with no mind to or intention to research the rules, regulations and best practices surrounding their safe use. One case and point is a local “pilot” who insists on flying within spitting distance (literally) from our local Emergency Health Services Helicopter Landing Pad. This particular pad is being used full time as the only pad in the city as TC recently stopped the EHS helicopter from landing at the hospitals.

    The guidelines stated in the letter, in my opinion, are too broad for some to follow. We all know that people not following rules or doing things safely are why laws are created.



    1. Unfortunately with little to no enforcement from TC it will continue to be an issue. Laws & guidelines have little value if many simply choose to ignore them and there is no consequences.


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