General

New Canadian Drone Regulations Released

The long delayed and much anticipated new drone/uav/rpas regulations from Transport Canada were finally released today (Jan 9 2019).

The full details can be found in Canada Gazette  Part II – http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2019/2019-01-09/pdf/g2-15301.pdf

Those looking for a more simplified view of the new Canadian drone rules can look here:  http://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety/flying-drone-safely-legally.html

We will be doing a full review and analysis of the new laws in the coming days and weeks.

Current State of Canadian Drone Laws – January 2019

With the proposed new Transport Canada drone/uav/rpas regulations originally promised by the end of 2018 still stuck in unknown limbo, the prior regulations are still in effect as they had been in 2018.

For recreational use, Interim Order #9 still is in place.  For non-recreational use, which covers most research and business uses, an Exception or more probably an SFOC is still required.

The main Transport Canada drone page can be found here:
https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety.html

The general summary for recreational use of drones between 250g-25kg is as follows:

  • below 90 m above the ground
  • at least 30 m away from vehicles, vessels and the public (if your drone weighs over 250 g and up to 1 kg)
  • at least 76 m away from vehicles, vessels and the public (if your drone weighs over 1 kg and up to 35 kg)
  • at least 5.6 km away from aerodromes (any airport, seaplane base or area where aircraft take off and land)
  • at least 1.9 km away from heliports or aerodromes used by helicopters only
  • outside of controlled or restricted airspace
  • at least 9 km away from a natural hazard or disaster area
  • away from areas where its use could interfere with police or first responders
  • during the day and not in clouds
  • within your sight at all times
  • within 500 m of yourself
  • clearly marked with your name, address and telephone number

Full details of the Interim Order are outlined here:
http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2018/2018-06-16/html/notice-avis-eng.html#ne6

If you fly your drone for anything non-recreational you must get a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). The certificate tells you how and where you are allowed to use your drone. Although most operators will need a certificate, you may be able to qualify for one of two exemptions.  For more information on the certificate and exemptions, read Getting permission to fly your drone.

Full details on the SFOC process can be found here:
https://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety/getting-permission-fly-drone/applying-special-flight-operations-certificate.html

An SFOC however is not a free for all, we cover many of the standard restrictions in this article: https://blog.flitelab.com/2017/03/19/sfocs-not-a-drone-get-out-of-jail-free-card/

For those looking for assistance with the SFOC process, we provide consulting services to assist with creating all the required processes, procedures, and associated documentation and applications.  Details can be found here:
https://blog.flitelab.com/2016/12/17/sfoc-application-consulting-services/

Finding a Canadian Drone Flight School

As part of the Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for using a drone/uav/rpas commercially or outside of the limits of the recreational rules, you will need to take a recognized UAV ground school course.

Transport Canada provides a list of schools that have self-declared that they provide training in line with Transport Canada standards on their website here:
http://www.tc.gc.ca/en/services/aviation/drone-safety/find-drone-flight-school.html

For those looking for an online based course, our primary recommendation is Coastal Drone

TC RPAS Task Force Regulatory Update on Proposed Canadian Regulations – Oct 30 2018

During the USC Conference recently held in Vancouver (Oct 30 2018), Transport Canada provided an update on the proposed changes to Canadian legislation governing UAV/drones, which are now officially called Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

No solid date was given on when we will see the final version but they are targeting before end of 2018.

Roll-out will be done over a 6 month period once the regulations are published in Canada Gazette Part II.

The following is a summary of proposed regulations:

  • Single weight class from 250g-25kg for VLOS operations
  • Single set of regulations for recreational and commercial use
  • Operations fall into two types of operations: Basic, Advanced

Basic:

  • Class G Airspace Only
  • 1nm from heliports, 3nm from airports
  • No aircraft design standard requirement
  • Aircraft must be registered and marked with #
  • Basic online test for license
  • 14 or older unless supervised
  • No speed restrictions
  • Operations within built-up areas permitted
  • No operations over people, 30M distance
  • Max altitude 400′
  • Night operations permitted
  • Not specific distance from pilot but must be VLOS
  • No liability insurance required

Advanced:

  • Class G, C-F Airspace
  • Operations near aerodromes with ATC approval
  • Manufacturers declare RPAS safety assurance
  • Aircraft must be registered and marked with #
  • Comprehensive online test and in person flight review for license
  • 16 or older unless supervised
  • No speed restrictions
  • Operations within built-up areas permitted
  • Operations over people if assurance allows, 0-30M from people.
  • Max altitude 400′
  • Night operations permitted
  • Not specific distance from pilot but must be VLOS
  • No liability insurance required

Details on manufacture assurance process are TBA.

Slides courtesy of Calvin Reich via UAV Task Force at the Unmanned Systems Conference

Air Transportation Safety Investigation Report A17Q016

The TSB – Transportation Safety Board of Canada has released their report on the suspected drone/aircraft collision over Quebec in October 2017:

http://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/aviation/2017/a17q0162/a17q0162.asp

Noted items:

The damage was limited to a dent at the point of impact on the left wing de-icing boot, as well as scratches on the upper surface of the left wing. The damage was minor and had no effect on the airworthiness of the aircraft. The aircraft was returned to service the same day.

The investigation was unable to identify the operator of the drone involved in the collision with the Sky Jet M.G. Inc. aircraft. No debris from the drone could be found, and it could not be determined with certainty whether it was used for recreational or non-recreational purposes.

The CYQB control tower had not been informed of any UAV activity in the Class C control zone under its jurisdiction, no SFOC had been issued, and no Notices to Airmen had reported any such activity on 12 October 2017. The presence of a drone within controlled airspace had not been detected by the radar in the CYQB control tower. Because neither TC nor NAV CANADA was aware of this drone operation in the control zone, the investigation concluded that the regulations governing the operation of drones were not followed.

It is still unclear as to if this was a drone or misreporting of another object, given that no evidence was found to positively identify the drone or operator.  While we do not deny it may have been a drone, the evidence seems thin.

Shams, Scams, Flimflams, and Drones

When it comes to any industry there are always a few that will try and exploit the market by all means possible to make a quick $$$.  In new industries like with UAVs/drones, this can be even more pronounced as scammers look to profit from the general lack of knowledge.

We recently had an experience with this where a new “drone” company directly stole content from this very blog, word for word, to promote a competitive service of their own.  When confronted they accused us of copying them!  The fact that our content had been written over a year prior to theirs seemed lost in the logic of a flimflam artist. (If we owned a time machine I think we could make better use of it than stealing someone’s written word on drones, but I digress)  Further review of their website found images taken from other UAV firms as well, so at least we are not alone, and perhaps should be flattered to have been included in their “market research”??

This is not the first case of this nor will it be the last.  Many drone businesses have seen their work being copied and used without credit over the last number of years, some even being listed for resale.  Again, ethics and morals are lost on some, unfortunately.  Even those listing what appear to be high standing credentials and years of related experience can sometimes be less than honest, scammers exist at all levels, just remember Bernie Madoff.

We’ve also experienced losing jobs and clients to other “professional” SFOC holding UAV operators that were willing to work outside the regulations, offering clients services that legally cannot be done, which makes it hard to compete on a level playing field.  We and most others, however, choose to work with the system, although not perfect, is what we have, and putting the client and public at risk for a few dollars is not worth it long term for anyone.

The simple reality is there is a small percentage in any sector that have a moral compass that needs calibration.  Eventually, they either fall in line or move on to exploit another industry once exposed, but for a short time can do great damage to an industry and leave a bad taste in the mouths of customers.

End of the day the customer needs to do their homework when selecting a provider in any industry, and possibly more so in the UAV arena, where many companies are new and it is hard to spot the professionals from the quick buck crowd.  Perform due diligence, ask questions, check with others in the market, reach out to past customers if possible, see what they have posted and shared on social media to help develop a profile of what they are and how they work.  While the vast majority of providers are honest hard working people, there are the few lying in wait to pounce on unsuspecting prey.

The UAV industry is an exciting and fast-moving one, much like the gold rush of the old west, and with it come the snake oil salesmen and carpet baggers looking for their next victim.  Try not to be that person, on either side of the transaction.