Recreational

New Canadian Drone Regulations – Weather/Environmental Factors

With the new  Canadian drone regulations that come into effect June 1 2019 are some changes to the weather and environmental factors around when and where you can operate a drone/uav/rpas.

Gone are the minimum ceiling and visibility restrictions of the prior regulations.  Now the main factor is being able to keep the aircraft within line of sight.

Minimum Weather Conditions
901.34 No pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system unless the weather conditions at the time of flight permit

(a) the operation to be conducted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; and
(b) the pilot of the system and any visual observer to conduct the entire flight within visual line-of-sight.

The biggest item in the above that may catch some out is “in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions” which implies within the specified operating limits such as temperature and wind speed.

On a DJI Phantom 4 Pro for example it has an Operating Temperature Range 32° to 104°F (0° to 40°C), which could restrict use during much of the year in Canada.

In addition as before, care must be taken around potential icing conditions as well:

Icing
901.35 (1) No pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system when icing conditions are observed, are reported to exist or are likely to be encountered along the route of flight unless the aircraft is equipped with de-icing or anti-icing equipment and equipment designed to detect icing.

(2) No pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system with frost, ice or snow adhering to any part of the remotely piloted aircraft.

As before you must keep clear of clouds as a general safety condition:

602.45 No person shall fly a kite or launch a model rocket or a rocket of a type used in a fireworks display into cloud or in a manner that is or is likely to be hazardous to aviation safety.

One big allowance now for many recreational users that had been limited to SFOC holders before is the ability to fly at night:

Night Flight Requirements
901.39 (1) No pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system during the night unless the remotely piloted aircraft is equipped with position lights sufficient to allow the aircraft to be visible to the pilot and any visual observer, whether with or without night-vision goggles, and those lights are turned on.

(2) No pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system using night-vision goggles unless the goggles are capable of, or the person has another means of, detecting all light within the visual spectrum.

New Canadian Drone Regulations – People, Buildings, Vehicles

One of the biggest changes in  the new Canadian drone regulations on Jan 9 2019 are around minimum distances allowed to people, buildings, and vehicles.

Gone are the restrictions to buildings and vehicles for both Basic and Advanced operations.  The primary requirement being to stay 30M from bystanders.  Flights over vehicles and buildings are permitted, as long as their are no freestanding people.

Horizontal Distance

901.26 Subject to paragraph 901.69(1)(b) or (c), no pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft at a distance of less than 100 feet (30 m) from another person, measured horizontally and at any altitude, except from a crew member or other person involved in the operation.

The exclusion of occupied vehicles and buildings was confirmed by Katelin Klassen of COASTAL DRONE in a recent review with the TC RPAS Task Force:

The 100′ horizontal distance from people mentioned in CAR 901.26 means freestanding bodies. “People” does not refer to those in cars or buildings. Asking people to step inside while you fly is totally reasonable under the new regulations.

One additional item of note near buildings is the ability to exceed the base 400′ AGL altitude limit as well, allowing 100′ above the structure if you are within 200′:

Maximum Altitude

901.25 (1) Subject to subsection (2), no pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft at an altitude greater than

(a) 400 feet (122 m) AGL; or
(b) 100 feet (30 m) above any building or structure, if the aircraft is being operated at a distance of less than 200 feet (61 m), measured horizontally, from the building or structure.

For Advanced operations the distance to bystanders can be further reduced, but is dependent on the assurance level the manufacture has approved for the UAV.  The details on the specifics are still unknown and TBA by TC.

901.69 (1) Subject to subsection (2), no pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system under this Division to conduct any of the following operations unless a declaration under section 901.76 has been made in respect of that model of system and the certificate of registration issued in respect of the aircraft specifies the operations for which the declaration was made:

(a) operations in controlled airspace;
(b) operations at a distance of less than 100 feet (30 m) but not less than 16.4 feet (5 m) from another person except from a crew member or other person involved in the operation, measured horizontally and at any altitude; or
(c) operations at a distance of less than 16.4 feet (5 m) from another person, measured horizontally and at any altitude.

The exception to this is at advertised events.  These will still require an SFOC for drone operations.

Special Aviation Events and Advertised Events

901.41 (1) No pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system at any special aviation event or at any advertised event except in accordance with a special flight operations certificate — RPAS issued under section 903.03.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), advertised event means an outdoor event that is advertised to the general public, including a concert, festival, market or sporting event.

New Canadian Drone Exams – Asking Stupid Questions

With the release of the new Canadian drone regulations on Jan 9 2019 came the requirement for all users to pass either a Basic or Advanced online exam.

The supposed purpose of the exams were to ensure user knowledge, especially when it comes to safe use of drones, so as to ensure there are no ongoing issues near airports or the public that could result in accidents.

However this is where things go off the rails.  Instead of exams that focus on the safe use of the aircraft, focusing on the regulations around when and where you can fly, the exam goes off on tangents at times, pulling endless aviation jargon and technical details into the mix.

While we cannot go into the specifics on questions, as that would violate the regulations, case in point is a question around the definition of a “stabilator“.  Given that the vast majority of consumer drones are quadcopters, such as those commonly sold by DJI, which do not have traditional fixed wing control surfaces, especially less common ones as a stabilator, we question the purpose and logic of questions like this even being in the mix.

Others dig into the details of laminar flow and reading VNC charts.  Perhaps the Minister is hoping to develop the next generation of astronauts…

Many of the questions seem to be pulled directly from an existing pool for full scale manned aviation, not ones tailored to drones or the consumer market.

When you ask obtuse obscure irrelevant questions you lose the opportunity to educate and merely make clear to the user the pointlessness of the exam itself.  Instead of trying to learn in the process, users hitting these type of questions become frustrated and merely cheat their way through to get it over with, and see it is little more than a hurdle of red tape.

It would be like asking to explain how a limited-slip differential works during a driving test.  I suspect most would fail.

In a very limited test of 30 questions you have a small opportunity to try and stress the critical elements, which presumably are around safe use, so the focus of the exam should be towards those elements, once that every user needs to know and understand, not 1% edge cases or interesting aeronautical tidbits & definitions.

We have seen many causes already of people simply Googling the answers and in some cases asking for help in real time on social media for the answers.  A recent case on Facebook had one person posting screenshots of the test as he went asking others to give the answers.  After failing the test 3 previous times he was finally able to pass with the feedback provided.  What exactly does this accomplish when it comes to aviation and public safety?

Transport Canada has missed the mark with their approach in the new regulations, especially around the exams.  They clearly do not understand the target audience both in terms of what they should know to fly safely or even in terms of using everyday common language vs technical aviation jargon.

If you want an effective set of regulations they need to be easy to understand, easy to follow, and easy to enforce.  If they are not then people will either find work arounds or ignore them all together.  The new drone regulations for Canada miss on all marks.

New Canadian Drone Regulations – Exam Prep Courses

Looking to prepare for the new Canadian drone exams?
Checkout Coastal Drone Aviation:

Exam Prep | Basic Get yourself ready for the Basic Category knowledge exam! 

Exam Prep | Advanced Get yourself ready for the Advanced Category knowledge exam!

Practice with Transport Canada style multiple choice questions plus learn about the new regulations and how they may affect you.

Use coupon code “SFOC” for a 10% discount.

They also offer full ground school courses for those needing a more in-depth study.

New Canadian Drone Regulations – Flight Review

As part of the new drone regulations in Canada, in effect on June 1 2019, it is a requirement to pass a flight review as part of the Advanced Operations permit.

The items that must be performed for review are are outlined in TP 15263 Appendix A as per the following:

Pre-flight planning procedures

Knowledge requirements for Visual line of sight operations
Small basic operation Small advanced operation Topics
n/a applies Plan a flight of at least 15 minutes duration simulating a normal operational sRPAS flight which shall, at a minimum, include one (1) take-off and one (1) full stop landing.

The small RPAS pilot operating within visual line of sight must be able to:

  • Provide a satisfactory site survey;
  • Brief flight crew or visual observers of any duties they are to perform or any other information relevant to the flight;
  • Use appropriate and current aeronautical charts and other current flight publications;
  • Properly identify airspace, obstructions, and terrain features;
  • Select a safe and efficient take-off location and flight route;
  • Obtain all pertinent information about local air routes and aerodromes;
  • Retrieve and interpret weather information and NOTAM relevant to the intended flight;
  • Determine the acceptability of existing or forecast weather conditions;
  • Select the most favourable and appropriate altitudes, considering weather conditions and equipment limitations;
  • Determine the appropriate departure procedure;
  • Make a competent “GO/NO-GO” decision based on available information for the flight;
  • Demonstrate that the weights and center of gravity are within acceptable manufactures limits;
  • Determine the impact on their sRPAS operations, of unserviceability of equipment or equipment configuration changes for the proposed flight; and
  • Organize and arrange material and equipment in a manner that makes the items readily available.

Emergency procedures

Knowledge requirements for Visual line of sight operations
Small basic operation Small advanced operation Topics
n/a applies Demonstrate the procedures to be used when an emergency occurs.

The small RPAS pilot operating within visual line of sight must be able to:

  • Describe emergency procedures that apply to your sRPAS;
  • Describe the lost-link procedures that apply to your sRPAS;
  • Describe the procedures to follow in the event of a fly-away, including who to contact.

Perform a take-off

Knowledge requirements for Visual line of sight operations
Small basic operation Small advanced operation Topics
n/a applies Perform an organized and efficient safe departure

The small RPAS pilot operating within visual line of sight must be able to:

  • Complete all pre-flight inspection/checks on your sRPAS;
  • Note take-off time;
  • Use an organized and efficient procedure to take off;
  • Comply with all departure clearances and instructions if the flight review is conducted in controlled airspace; and
  • Complete appropriate checklists.

Manual flight procedure

Knowledge requirements for Visual line of sight operations
Small basic operation Small advanced operation Topics
n/a applies Show the ability to manually control the sRPAS through various stages of flight.

The small RPAS pilot operating within visual line of sight must be able to:

  • Maintain a stable airspeed, cruising altitude, and heading;
  • Navigate by applying systematic navigation techniques;
  • Orient the sRPAS to the direction of flight;
  • Navigate around an obstacle or fixed point;
  • Determine the position of the aircraft with respect to distance and altitude from the candidate;
  • Apply an organized method that would:
    • verify the position of the aircraft
    • revise headings to correct any existing track error to maintain the aircraft’s position due to wind
    • confirm or revise the battery power available at the destination landing point with a degree of accuracy that would make arrival assured
    • confirm current fuel/power levels vs requirements for the flight

Lost link procedures

Knowledge requirements for Visual line of sight operations
Small basic operation Small advanced operation Topics
n/a applies Demonstrate verbally the procedures to be used when a lost link occurs.

The small RPAS pilot operating within visual line of sight must be able to:

  • Correctly program the sRPAS for a “return to home” if it is equipped with that function;
  • Select a power setting and altitude appropriate for the lost link situation;
  • Promptly recognize when a lost link has occurred;
  • Show an ability to regain control of the sRPAS if it reconnects the lost link;
  • Take an appropriate course of action, once link has been re-established and confirmed; and
  • Contact the appropriate facility to provide information on the lost link if needed.

“Fly away” procedures

Knowledge requirements for Visual line of sight operations
Small basic operation Small advanced operation Topics
n/a applies Verbally demonstrate the ability to perform all the needed actions relating to a “fly away” situation.

The small RPAS pilot operating within visual line of sight must be able to:

  • Perform the following tasks without undue delay:
    • Identify and record their present position
    • Identify and record the direction and altitude the sRPAS was last seen travelling
    • Estimate the approximate available flight time that will remain with the fuel/power on board upon arrival at the destination (Example: 15 minutes)
  • Without delay contact the appropriate facility to provide information on the “fly away” if needed.

Perform a landing

Knowledge requirements for Visual line of sight operations
Small basic operation Small advanced operation Topics
n/a applies Perform an organized and efficient safe arrival.

The small RPAS pilot operating within visual line of sight must be able to:

  • Use an organized and efficient procedure to land;
  • Comply with all arrival clearances and instructions if the flight review is conducted in controlled airspace;
  • Complete appropriate checklists;
  • Note landing time;
  • Secure the sRPAS.

 

New Canadian Drone Regulations – Impact on MAAC

As the new regulations that will come into affect June 1 2019 impacts all model aircraft, not just “drones”, there have been concerns raised by many “traditional” recreational flyers in regards to how this impacts Model Aeronautics Association Of Canada (MAAC) members, fields, and events.

As per the new regulations outlined in CG2:

While Part IX of the CARs applies to all RPAS, members of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) operating at MAAC fields and MAAC sanctioned events will be issued an exemption to certain provisions of the CARs. Under the Act,77 the Minister has the authority to issue exemptions to the CARs; the exemption will be issued to MAAC before the end of the coming into force of the Regulations.