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.

Draft National UAV SFOC Form

The following is a draft version of the newly announced SFOC form that will be used across all regions “soon”.

We are posting it here for reference only and it should not be used without direct indication from Transport Canada.

Transport Canada is in the process of finalizing the form and will be posting it on the official website.

The form is currnetly being used by most regions and is intended to repalce previous forms and processes for SFOC submissions.


SFOCs – Not a Drone Get Out of Jail Free Card

With the new restrictions on recreational drone/model use in Canada, many are looking to SFOCs (Special Flight Operations Certificate) commonly used by commercial UAV operators as a means to open things back up.

While SFOCs do allow for access to areas now closed to recreational use, they are far from the free for all that existed for recreational flyers prior to March 16th.  They come with  a number of requirements and restrictions that keep use in a fairly tight box.

While every SFOC can be different, the following are the most common elements:

  • Must be kept under 400′.
  • Need to keep 100′ distance from people, buildings, vehicles not part of the flight.  Cannot fly over public/crowds.
  • Can only fly in clear weather meeting defined visibility and wind conditions.
  • Cannot fly near forest fires or emergency area without proper authorization.
  • Must have UAV liability insurance.
  • Need to have an observer/spotter in addition to the pilot.
  • Cannot fly over private property without permissions.
  • Must be 18 or older, including pilot and observer.
  • Flights near airports and in controlled airspace are permitted but requires coordination in advance with Nav Canada and air traffic control and may be denied in some cases.
  • Night flights may be permitted but requires additional processes & procedures be in place.
  • Understand or training on knowledge requirements as outlined by Transport Canada is required.
  • Full set of documents outlining operational procedures, risk management, emergency planning, training, maintenance, logging, etc must be defined and maintained.

In addition when applying for an SFOC the first number of times (typically 3) it will be location and date specific.  You need to apply for each flight individually until you have a proven track record for safe use before you can request a long term or Standing SFOC for a larger area and date range.

SFOC applications can also take a fairly long time for approval.  While Transport Canada states 20 days, it can often take much longer, in some cases up to 3-4 months.  With many more application entering the system this will no doubt increase.

While SFOCs do provide some flexibility, they are not without their own restrictions so be aware before you consider it as a quick fix to the current lockdown.

For those interested in pursuing an SFOC see the 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

Drone vs UAV vs Model Aircraft – What are they??

With the new Canadian “drone” recreational regulations there is a lot of confusion around what they apply to and what a model is vs a UAV vs a drone.  When it comes to Transport Canada regulations the name and wording is important.

First off the term “drone” is not an official name used in the regulations,  it is more a media/public label catch all for any remote aircraft, although generally thought of as camera carrying quadcopters such as the DJI Phantom.

In the Transport Canada dictionary there are basically two definitions: Model Aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV and the main difference is if they are used commercially or recreationally.

model aircraft means an aircraft, the total weight of which does not exceed 35 kg (77.2 pounds), that is mechanically driven or launched into flight for recreational purposes and that is not designed to carry persons or other living creatures.

unmanned air vehicle means a power-driven aircraft, other than a model aircraft, that is designed to fly without a human operator on board.

The exact same aircraft is defined differently based on its use.  Basically if it is used commercially it is an UAV, if it is recreational then it is a Model Aircraft, and the associated regulations then apply to the type.  The same “drone” such as a DJI Phantom is a Model Aircraft if flown for fun and an UAV if flown for commercial use.

The new March 16 2017 regulations are for Model Aircraft used recreationally – http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/mediaroom/interim-order-respecting-use-model-aircraft.html

New Canadian Recreational Drone Rules

Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced new recreational drone regulations that will basically turn the previous #nodronezone guidelines into actual enforceable laws.

The rules, which are effective immediately, will mean recreational users will face a fine of up to $3,000.

(5) (1) A person must not operate a model aircraft

  1. (a) at an altitude greater than 300 feet AGL;
  2. (b) at a lateral distance of less than 250 feet (75m) from buildings, structures, vehicles, vessels, animals and the public including spectators, bystanders or any person not associated with the operation of the aircraft;
  3. (c) within 9 km of the centre of an aerodrome;
  4. (d) within controlled airspace;
  5. (e) within restricted airspace;
  6. (f) over or within a forest fire area, or any area that is located within 9 km of a forest fire area;
  7. (g) over or within the security perimeter of a police or first responder emergency operation site;
  8. (h) over or within an open-air assembly of persons;
  9. (i) at night; or
  10. (j) in cloud.

6 A person operating a model aircraft must give way to manned aircraft at all times.

7 (1) A person operating a model aircraft must ensure that it is operated within VLOS at all times during the flight.

(2) No person shall operate a model aircraft when the aircraft is at a lateral distance of more than 1640 feet (500 m) from the person’s location

8 The owner of a model aircraft shall not operate or permit a person to operate the aircraft unless the name, address and telephone number of the owner is clearly made visible on the aircraft.

The restrictions apply to drones weighting more than 250g up to 35kg.

RCMP & police will be working with Transport Canada inspectors to enforce the new rules.

Members of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) in good standing who operate at MAAC sanctioned fields or events are not subject to these rules.

Infographic on new rules: http://www.tc.gc.ca/media/documents/ca-opssvs/Infographic-New_rules_for_recreational_drone_users.pdf

Full Interim Order can be found here:

For a sense of the areas impacted, you can use the NRC UAV Site Selection Tool website: https://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/solutions/collaborative/civuas/uav_site_selection_tool.html

We will be updating this article as the full information is announced.

CreativeLive – New Skills for Aerial Imaging

Learning is an ongoing life long process.  No matter how deep we are into our specific field there is always the opportunity to learn new skills and pickup new tips.  When your running a business full time however it can be hard to find time to dedicate to education.  This is especially true in the field of aerial imaging, where technology changes so fast and many of us come from non related fields, there can be a lot of new skills to learn from flying the drone, through to editing the imagery, and marketing our services.

We recently wrote about CreativeLive as a learning resource on our sister website blog over at schooner labs as a great online source for education for those with limited time.

CreativeLive uses a freemium pricing model, the classes are free to live stream or can be purchased to watch at a later date if they don’t match your immediate schedule.

Photographer Chase Jarvis and entrepreneur Craig Swanson in Seattle in 2010, they leverage their background to bring a wide range of industry experts as instructors for their courses, giving the viewer some of the best in breed real world experience across the topic areas.

In terms of aerial imaging, CreativeLive offers a number of courses that directly apply to day to day needs around photo editing & video production. There are also a number of aerial & drone specific courses in the available library. In addition they also carry courses on managing your business and getting the most out of social media promotion and branding and related topics.

So when you have some free time between UAV operations, have a look at CreativeLive to see if there may be a chance to learn some new skills you can apply to your aerial imaging business to help move things to the next level.

Note – We are a CreativeLive affiliate and the links provided do provide us a small amount of funding if you purchase any of their offerings.  As with everything we share we only recommend items we truly believe in and have used.  Like you we are just a small business and making every penny count is key in the quickly changing aerial industry.