Canadian Sub 250g Drone Laws

One of the questions that seem to come up multiple times per day in the various Facebook groups is what regulations apply in Canada to drones like the DJI Mavic Mini and others that fall in the sub 250g category.

Transport Canada clarified this and other of the CARs Part IX RPAS regulations in the most recent AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual) with a new section specific to RPAS – https://www.tc.gc.ca/ca-publications/AIM_2020-1_E_RPA.pdf 

As noted:

Micro remotely piloted aircraft systems(mRPAS) are made up of a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) weighing less than 250g and its control station. The weight of the control station is not factored in to the weight calculation when determining whether an RPAS is micro (< 250 g) or small (250 g to 25 kg). However, the weight of any payload carried, such as optional cameras, will be considered part of the weight.

Pilots of micro RPASs are not subject to Subpart 1 of Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARS), so they are not required to register their RPAs or obtain a certificate to fly them. However, they must adhere to CAR 900.06 and ensure they do not operate their RPA in such a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger aviation safety or the safety of any person. While there are no prescriptive elements of the regulation that inform the pilot how to accomplish this objective, there is an expectation that the pilot of a micro RPAS should use good judgment, identify potential hazards, and take all necessary steps to mitigate any risks associated with the operation. This should include having an understanding of the environment in which the RPA pilot is operating, with particular attention paid to the possibility of aircraft or people being in the same area

If CAR 601.04 – IFR or VFR Flight in Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace or Class F Special Use Advisory Airspace, 601.16 – Issuance of NOTAM for Forest Fire Aircraft Operating Restrictions, and 5.1 of the Aeronautics Act restrict the use of airspace to all “aircraft”, they therefore apply to micro RPAs as they are considered aircraft under the Aeronautics Act and CARs. For more information, see RAC 2.8.6 Class F Airspace in the TC AIM.

A pilot that is found to have created a hazard to either aviation safety or people on the ground is subject to an individual penalty of $1,000 and/or a corporate penalty of $5,000 (CAR 103, Schedule II)

As such drones in this category have a very limited set of restrictions, basically 900.06:

900.06 No person shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system in such a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger aviation safety or the safety of any person.

In short:

  • No registration required
  • No pilot certificate required
  • No flight restrictions beyond Class F Restricted areas and any NOTAMs limiting all aircraft use including models that may be in effect

Basically, fly smart and don’t be an idiot.

Keep in mind that in addition to the TC regulations, other city and park bylaws may still apply even to micro drones, as well as other laws in the criminal code.

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