Some Changes – Interim Order No. 7 Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft

In the most recently published Interim Order for recreational model use there have been some interesting changes.

Interim Order No. 7 Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft

The distances to aerodromes that had been 9km are now reduced:

(5) No person shall operate a model aircraft
(a) within 3 nautical miles (5.5 km) of the centre of an
aerodrome, except a heliport or an aerodrome that is
used exclusively by helicopters;
(b) within 1 nautical mile (1.8 km) of a heliport or an
aerodrome that is used exclusively by helicopters; or
(c) inside an aerodrome control zone.

There is now a change to distance requirements for models under 1kg:

(3) No person shall operate a model aircraft having a total
weight of more 250 g (0.55 pounds) but not more than 1 kg
(2.2 pounds) at a lateral distance of less 100 feet (30 m)
from vehicles, vessels or the public, including spectators,
bystanders or any person not associated with the operation
of the aircraft.
(4) No person shall operate a model aircraft having a total
weight of more 1 kg (2.2 pounds) but not more than 35 kg
(77.2 pounds) at a lateral distance of less 250 feet (75 m)
from vehicles, vessels or the public, including spectators,
bystanders or any person not associated with the operation
of the aircraft.

The mention of lateral distance from animals has also been removed, as has buildings & structures.

New Canadian Drone Rules – Recreational vs Commercial Confusion

Since the changes to the recreational drone regulations in Canada back in mid March there has been a lot of push back from users upset with the restrictions limiting where they can now fly.  As we wrote about previously, most urban areas are now almost completely off limits to recreational drone use with the new regulations.

As part of the chatter around the new laws we often see comments from photographers, film makers, and others using their drone in parts of their work that are upset with the changes and that it limits their use.

However, the new regulations only impact “recreational” use, and as such have no impact on commercial applications.

In the eyes of Transport Canada recreational use is seen as being purely for fun. Anything that is not 100% for personal enjoyment falls outside the scope of recreational use and requires an SFOC or Exemption for legal use.

Even use for passion/indie projects where there may be no direct profit or payment from a client would fall into this area.  This also applies to search & rescue, research, and use on ones own property, all being “non-recreational”.  Taking photos for a friend’s house listing, selling prints, even footage for non profit organizations, use for your own marketing & social promotion, etc all are commercial in nature under the regulations.  If the drone is being used as a tool to collect footage for part of something more than the enjoyment of flying then it probably would not be considered recreational.

Transport Canada has even gone so far to say that use of footage on YouTube could be considered non recreational and subject to needing an SFOC, although this is still a grey area and yet to be tested.

That said if you are using a drone directly or indirectly for collecting photos and video for projects or business then you most likely need to follow the non-recreational rules to be legal.  Otherwise you could face potential fines and be personally liable if an accident were to happen.

For more information on applying for an SFOC, see this most recent article – “Overview of National UAV SFOC Application Form” covering the new National application form.

Additional information can be found throughout the blog as well, or for more direct assistance we also offer SFOC consulting as a service, see here for full details – SFOC Application Consulting Services


The following was received from Transport Canada PNR as a resource for UAV operators regarding Lithium batteries


Many UAV operators utilize equipment which uses Lithium batteries as a power source for the UAV, Control Station and other ancillary equipment required for operations.  There have been several recent incidents of Lithium Batteries catching fire, overheating, exploding and releasing toxic substances into the atmosphere.  It behooves all UAV operators to ensure that they are in compliance with all regulations concerning the transportation of these and other dangerous goods between job sites, whether by air, sea or surface, to ensure the safety of their crews and the general public.


The following links provide guidance on the regulatory requirements for transportation of dangerous goods, including Lithium Batteries.

Rethinking Canadian “Drone” Laws

Since the announcement of much tougher recreational drone/model aircraft regulations by the Minister of Transport in mid March, there have been numerous debates on the direction and impact of the new laws.  Canadian regulations basically went from a free for all to basic ban overnight.  Somewhere in the middle of the extremes is a balance.

This article outlines some thoughts on where that balance may be and an improved approach to addressing the management of drones/uavs/models going forward that not only accounts for aviation and public safety, but takes a real world view that the technology is here to stay and must be allowed to be used both recreationally and commercially if Canada is to remain at the forefront of innovation.

These ideas and concepts are not set in stone but merely first thoughts on striking a fair and balanced approach to address the concerns of all stakeholders.  No set of laws will be perfect for all but they should address each group as fairly as possible.


Canadian Drone Rules – One Extreme to Another

With the recent new recreational regulations announced on March 16 by the Minister of Transport there has under gone a major change from basically a free for all on recreational use to almost a complete ban in many areas.

New regulations to control recreational drone use were definitely needed, and something commercial UAV operators have been working under for many years.  Prior to this announcement  users could basically fly anywhere they wanted as long as no manned aircraft was put in danger.  While many people operated with common sense, there were a few that pushed the limits flying over concerts, roadways, near airports and aircraft, and being a nuisance to general public.

As well the recreational openness became a loophole for some to skirt proper commercial use requirements, flying in the guise of “fun” only to later use the footage they collected for commercial purposes, or as part of “passion projects” that were beyond the spirit of the recreational laws.  This created an unfair systems with those trying to work legally within the system.

While most of the new laws already existed prior as guidelines, they were not enforceable as such.  With the growing use of drones and ongoing abuse there was little left for the regulators to do but impose common sense on everyone to address the issues caused by a few.


Where can I fly my drone??

With tight restrictions on where recreational drones/models can now be used in Canada many owners are wondering where they can legally fly.

The main issue involved:

  • 9 km of any airport/aerodrome/helipad.
  • 250 feet (75m) from buildings, vehicles, people.

Even in more rural/suburban areas, getting 250′ feet from neighbors and roads can be a challenge.  The local soccer/ball field that many may have used before is many times bordering residential areas or next to a school or community center.

That being said, there are still areas available for recreational model use within most cities.  As part of the regulations was an exclusion for MAAC (Model Aeronautics Association of Canada) fields.  If you are interested more in the RC hobby definitely check for a local club as it can be a great place to learn.

For many however the aircraft & flight aspects of drone use are not the focus, and it is more about getting unique aerial photos and video, so flying at the same field all the time may not meet their needs.

To help determine where the new zones apply the NRC website is a good resource.  While not perfect it is currently one of the few accessible locations to find information on where controlled airspace and airports are located – NRC UAV Site Selection Tool
(One item to note on the NRC site is that many aerodromes are shown with only a 3NM circle, not the 5NM/9KM zone of the recent regulations.)

Another tool for mobile users is UAV Forecast.  The app provides mapping capabilities and you can set the distance around each type of airspace and airport.  Available for both iOS and Android.

AirMarket is another new online resource for UAV operators that provides online flight planning and maps as a paid service.  A free trial is available.

In addition this article outlines other related tools to assist with determining airspace and related information: Canadian Aviation Chart Resources

NOTE:  There are many other areas that may also be off limits.  Parks Canada and many cities and other areas have bylaws that restrict drone use as well.  The links above mainly focus on the airspace and aviation areas outlined by the new Transport Canada regulations.