The new National UAV SFOC application form is now slowly starting to roll out from various Transport Canada regional offices. This will be the form used going forward for submitting SFOCs across the country, bringing consistency finally to the process.
Application for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for the Operation of an Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) System in Canadian Airspace
The following is a quick overview of the form, the procedure for applying, and related notes.
First off while the form is now National, applications are still regional, submitting the form to each region for review. (Only Compliant level SFOCs can be requested for the entire country.)
The form handles all types of SFOCs for UAVs from Simplified/Complex/Standing/Compliant, VLOS/BVLOS, Day/Night for all classes of airspace.
The form itself contains fairly minimal information, with the bulk of the material submitted via supporting documents, much like the previous SFOC process in most areas. Those in PNR may be in for a change as a result, as the supporting documents had not be required prior, although most all other regions have always requested them as part of the application.
Mandatory supporting material includes:
- Copy of Liability Insurance Certificate
- Operation Manager’s Qualification Details
- Ground Supervisor’s Qualification Details
- UAV Pilot(s) Qualification Details
- Visual Observer’s Qualification Details
- Manufacturer UAV Specifications & Limitations
- Site Survey/Plan of Operation
- Security Plan
- Emergency Plan
- Proof of Corporation (if applicable)
- UAV Operations and Maintenance Procedures
- Description of UAV System Modifications (if applicable)
Additional material may also be required in some instances upon the Inspector’s request.
SECTION 11 – AMPLIFYING NOTES contains descriptions of all the form fields and associated definitions to help guide the applicant. A Site Survey/Plan of Operation sample is also provided.
In the past the main named individual required was Operations Manager. The new form now requires a named primary pilot and visual observer as well.
UAV serial numbers are now mandatory, where as in the past only the make/model was needed allowing for submission of aircraft that may not yet be on hand with the operator. For home-built UAV(s) a form of identification and/or naming convention for the UAV in place of a serial number.
Proof of insurance as well as proof of incorporation for companies are now required.
No Standing SFOC will be issued to a Foreign Operator until the new regulations are in effect.
A major change in policy is that Self-administered training will no longer be allowed for region wide SFOCs, implying a 3rd party ground school course is now needed:
Self-administered training is not approved for a region-wide Standing SFOC for complex UAV operations to operate a UAV within build up areas, within controlled airspace, within controlled zones, within five (5) nautical miles (9.3 km) from the centre of any aerodrome (excluding heliports) listed in the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) or Water Aerodrome Supplement (WAS) and within three (3) nautical miles (5.6 km) from the centre of any heliport listed in the CFS or WAS.
ROC-A may also be required for certain operations, which was the case in some regions prior.
A ROC-A certificate might be required for UAV operations within controlled airspace, within controlled zones, within five (5) nautical miles (9.3 km) from the centre of any aerodrome (excluding heliports) listed in the Canada Flight Supplement (CFS) or Water Aerodrome Supplement (WAS) and within three (3) nautical miles (5.6 km) from the centre of any heliport listed in the CFS or WAS.
Another change that may impact some operators is that Standing SFOCs over 400′ are no longer permitted, and must be handled as one of single applications.
A Standing SFOC will not be issued for UAV operations above 400 feet AGL.
Any UAV operation above 400 feet AGL will require a Specific Restricted Complex SFOC.
Email addresses for the submissions have changed as well for some regions:
Atlantic Region – email@example.com
Quebec Region – firstname.lastname@example.org
Prairie and Northern Region – PNRSpecialFlightOps@tc.gc.ca
Pacific Region – email@example.com
Ontario Region – firstname.lastname@example.org
Overall the new form contains minimal information, but standardizes the format and requirements. Having a solid set of supporting documents will be key to successful applications. Missing information on a returned application will result in the application losing its place in line:
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.
For those interested in pursuing an SFOC see the various other articles in our blog for details, or for more direct assistance we also offer this as a service, see here for full details – SFOC Application Consulting Services