Drone vs UAV vs Model Aircraft – What are they??

With the new Canadian “drone” recreational regulations there is a lot of confusion around what they apply to and what a model is vs a UAV vs a drone.  When it comes to Transport Canada regulations the name and wording is important.

First off the term “drone” is not an official name used in the regulations,  it is more a media/public label catch all for any remote aircraft, although generally thought of as camera carrying quadcopters such as the DJI Phantom.

In the Transport Canada dictionary there are basically two definitions: Model Aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV and the main difference is if they are used commercially or recreationally.

model aircraft means an aircraft, the total weight of which does not exceed 35 kg (77.2 pounds), that is mechanically driven or launched into flight for recreational purposes and that is not designed to carry persons or other living creatures.

unmanned air vehicle means a power-driven aircraft, other than a model aircraft, that is designed to fly without a human operator on board.

The exact same aircraft is defined differently based on its use.  Basically if it is used commercially it is an UAV, if it is recreational then it is a Model Aircraft, and the associated regulations then apply to the type.  The same “drone” such as a DJI Phantom is a Model Aircraft if flown for fun and an UAV if flown for commercial use.

The new March 16 2017 regulations are for Model Aircraft used recreationally – http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/mediaroom/interim-order-respecting-use-model-aircraft.html


  1. I can appreciate your opinion on the wording, but nowhere in TC information does it state UAV is for commercial purposes. In fact, there are instructions for safe “drone” use which refer to them as a UAV. I’d like to say I’d love to see a direct explanation as to the difference, but from where I stand now, I don’t mind it remaining ambiguous as it gets me and my UAV off the hook from this stupid 250g rule.


    1. It is implied as a model is for “recreational purposes”. A UAV is not, therefore requires SFOC. It is more recreational vs non-recreational than commercial.

      If you deem it a UAV then it needs to follow the UAV regulations – SFOC.


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