Halifax/HRM No Drone Policy

We recently were passed along information from a client that was denied access to HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality – Nova Scotia) property for UAV use.  We had heard conflicting reports from other operators stating that this was not the case.  For clarity we reached out to HRM for an official statement on this.  The following was received via HRM Risk & Insurance Services:

“Commercial and recreational drone use is relatively new and therefore what we call a new and emerging risk. Until sufficient time has passed and data available to enable additional research including tracking of claims or incidents, regretfully, there will be no permits or approvals issued for commercial or recreational drone usage from HRM property.

With the exception of HRM’s emergency response Teams, HRM has made the decision not to allow commercial or recreational drone use from HRM property. This extends to and includes the issues of permits and approvals for commercial or recreational drone use from HRM parks and open spaces. Drone use over streets and sidewalks may cause a distraction or hazard for motor vehicle operators -including Metro Transit and is especially concerning.

Prior to reaching this decision, significant research on the use of drones- both commercially and recreationally in other Canadian Municipalities and across North America was completed. All applicable legislation, drone design, the variety of uses and industry standards were reviewed.”

This essentially puts all HRM operated/manged areas, such as parks, sports fields, green spaces off limits to recreational & commercial drone use.  It is unclear what the penalties may be for violation, however it would be a violation of SFOC conditions as property owner permission is required.  This applies only to use from HRM property directly, operations based on private area or areas managed by other agencies should still be possible as HRM can only control property access not airspace.

We are disappointed in this backward approach with a complete ban on all use.  UAVs offer the potential of many great uses when done properly, legally, by insured and trained operators, tasks that may otherwise be done via riskier traditional means.  HRM’s approach to stop all use limits growth of the industry within the region.

Many/most other cities in Canada, while may have bylaws on recreational use, do have processes to allow for commercial operation of UAVs and see the value and benefit of their use, unfortunately HRM seems to feel a complete ban is the easier solution.

Halifax promotes itself as an innovative technical region for business, however policies such as this paint a different picture.  Those with concerns we suggest reach out to your Councillor to voice concerns.

Proposed Canadian UAV Regs Review – UAV Categories

Under the upcoming Canadian UAV regulations multiple operating categories are proposed to mitigate the risks by requiring increasingly more stringent requirements as the weight of the UAV increases, as well as the areas of operation.

  • 250 g or less – unregulated (micro)
  • more than 250 g but not more than 1 kg (very small)
  • more than 1 kg but not more than 25 kg (small)

Within the small category there is a distinction based on the complexity of the operation and area it is being flow within:

  • limited operations
  • complex operations

Operation of a UA this size in a rural location (see footnote 6) would be referred to as a “limited operation,” whereas in a built-up area, near an aerodrome or within controlled airspace, as a “complex operation.”

For the purposes of these proposed Regulations, a definition of the term built-up area (see footnote 7) is proposed and would allow a person to be able to identify if they are in a built-up area.

Footnote 7
Built-up area means a populated or developed area of a locality, including a city, a town, a village or a hamlet.

Each of these comes with its own restrictions and allowances:

tc-new-regs

For the majority of most current commercial operators, small complex will be the primary category.

Full requirements & restrictions for each category are as follows:

UA of more than 250 g but not more than 25 kg

The following requirements, for example, would apply to all UAS pilots/operators irrespective of the weight of the UA and areas of operation:

  • Clearly mark the UA with the name, address and telephone number of the operator;
  • Notify air traffic control if the UA inadvertently enters or is likely to enter controlled airspace;
  • Operate in manner that is not reckless or negligent (that could not endanger life or property);
  • Give right of way to manned aircraft;
  • Use another person as a visual observer if using a device that generates a streaming video also known as a first-person view (FPV) device;
  • Confirm that no radio interference could affect the flight of the UA;
  • Do not operate in cloud; and
  • Have liability insurance of at least $100,000.

UA of more than 250 g but not more than 1 kg (very small)

It is proposed that a recreational or non-recreational UA pilot who operates a UA that weighs between 250 g and 1 kg and who operates it anywhere must adhere to the following requirements and limits including, but not limited to:

  • (1) Pass a written knowledge test (similar to a boating (see footnote 4) test) to demonstrate aeronautical knowledge in specific subject areas, such as airspace classification and structure, the effects of weather and other areas;
  • (2) Be at least 14 years of age;
  • (3) Operate at the following minimum distance from an aerodrome: 3 nautical miles (NM) [5.56 km] from the centre of the aerodrome. The required distance from heliports and/or aerodromes used exclusively by helicopters would be 1 NM (1.85 km);
  • (4) Operate at least 100 feet (30.5 m) from a person. A distance of less than 100 feet laterally would be possible for operations if conditions such as a reduced maximum permitted speed of 10 knots (11.5 mph) and a minimum altitude of 100 feet are respected;
  • (5) Operate at a maximum distance of 0.25 NM (0.46 km) from the pilot;
  • (6) Operations over or within open-air assemblies of persons (see footnote 5) would not be allowed;
  • (7) Operate below 300 feet;
  • (8) Operate at less than 25 knots (29 mph); and
  • (9) Night operations would not be allowed.

UA of more than 1 kg but not more than 25 kg (small)

If a person intends to operate a UA that weighs more than 1 kg (2.2 lb.) but not more than 25 kg (55.1 lb.), it is proposed that they comply with increasingly stringent requirements depending on where they operate. Operation of a UA this size in a rural location (see footnote 6) would be referred to as a “limited operation,” whereas in a built-up area, near an aerodrome or within controlled airspace, as a “complex operation.”

For the purposes of these proposed Regulations, a definition of the term built-up area (see footnote 7) is proposed and would allow a person to be able to identify if they are in a built-up area. In addition to specific requirements/limitations pertaining to either a limited or complex operation, some common requirements are proposed. A person who wants to operate a small UA, for example, would be required to perform a site survey prior to launch to identify any obstacles and keep maintenance and flight records.

Small UA (limited operations)

If a person wants to operate a UA that weighs more than 1 kg but not more than 25 kg in an environment with a lower population and less air traffic (generally referred to as a “rural area”), it is proposed that they must adhere to the following requirements and limits, including, but not limited to:

  • (1) Pass a written knowledge test (similar to a boating test) to demonstrate aeronautical knowledge in specific subject areas, such as airspace classification and structure, the effects of weather and other areas;
  • (2) Be at least 16 years of age;
  • (3) Operate at the following minimum distance from an aerodrome: 3 NM (5.56 km) or greater, respecting the control zone; or 1 NM (1.85 km) if there is no control zone. The required distance from heliports and/or aerodromes used exclusively by helicopters would be 1 NM (1.85 km);
  • (4) Operate at least 250 feet (76.20 m) from a person. A lateral distance of less than 250 feet would be possible for operations if conditions such as a maximum permitted speed of 10 knots (11.5 mph) and a minimum altitude of 250 feet are respected;
  • (5) Operate at a minimum distance of 0.5 NM (0.93 km) from a built-up area;
  • (6) Operate at a maximum distance of 0.5 NM (0.93 km) from the pilot;
  • (7) Operations over or within open-air assemblies of persons (see footnote 8) would not be allowed;
  • (8) Operate below 300 feet (91.44 m) or 100 feet (30.48 m) above a building or structure with conditions;
  • (9) Operate at less than 87 knots (100 mph); and
  • (10) Night operations would not be allowed.

Small UA (complex operations)

Operating a heavier UA near populated areas may pose a greater probability and severity of an incident or accident involving people or property. Operations within 0.5 NM (0.93 km) of a built-up area, near an aerodrome or in controlled airspace would necessarily need preparations and involve more than buying a UAS and reading the operating manual. If a person would want to operate a UA that weighs more than 1 kg but not more than 25 kg in this type of environment, it is proposed that they adhere to the following three unique requirements:

  • (1) Have a UAS that is in compliance with a standard published by a standards organization accredited by a national or international standards accrediting body; (see footnote 9) have available the statement from the manufacturer that the UAS meets the standard; and do not modify the UAS. Transport Canada would alleviate the requirement for a pilot/operator to have a UAS that meets the design standards for operation in a complex operating area if that pilot/operator has bought a UAS prior to the coming-into-force date of the new regulations;
  • (2) Register the UAS with Transport Canada and ensure that the certificate of registration is readily available by the pilot-in-command; and
  • (3) Obtain a pilot permit that would be valid for five years. The pilot permit application to Transport Canada would include, for example, the following:
    • • An attestation of piloting skills by another UA pilot, and
    • • The successful completion of a comprehensive knowledge exam.

The following requirements and limits would also apply:

  • (1) Pass a comprehensive written knowledge test (part of the pilot permit requirement above);
  • (2) Be at least 16 years of age;
  • (3) Request and receive authorization for flight in airspace which is a control zone for an aerodrome from the appropriate air traffic control unit;
  • (4) Operate at least 100 feet (30.48 m) from a person. A distance of less than 100 feet would be possible for operations if conditions such as a maximum allowed speed of 10 knots (11.5 mph) and a minimum altitude of 100 feet are respected;
  • (5) Operate at a maximum distance of 0.5 NM (0.93 km) from the pilot;
  • (6) Operate over or within open-air assemblies of persons if operated at an altitude of greater than 300 feet, but less than 400 feet, and from which, in the event of an emergency necessitating an immediate landing, it would be possible to land the aircraft without creating a hazard to persons or property on the surface;
  • (7) Operate at a maximum of 400 feet (121.92 m) or 100 feet above a building or structure with conditions; and
  • (8) Night operations would be allowed with conditions.

Proposed Canadian UAV Regs Review Index

With the release of the new proposed UAV regulations for Canada we have been doing a number of articles reviewing the details within.  We will be adding to this in the coming days and weeks as our review and analysis continues and new information comes to light. This post will contain an updated index to all associated articles on the topic:

Proposed Canadian UAV Regs Review – Grandfathered Compliance

Since the announcement of the NPA the recently released proposed UAV regulations one of the major concerns of many existing operators was the requirement for Compliant UAV systems for Complex Operations.  For many businesses this makes up a large portion of their work, and potentially a large added cost not easily absorbed with the current limited expensive Compliant systems.

To address these concerns Transport Canada has made an allowance to grandfather existing UAVs in for use for Complex Operations without the need for them to meet the design standard:

(c) in the case of an unmanned aircraft system that is operated, or that is intended to be operated, under Division III of Subpart 2 of Part IX, attests

  • (i) that they hold a statement of conformity issued by the manufacturer of the system and that they have not modified the system, or

  • (ii) if the operator does not hold a statement of conformity issued by the manufacturer, that the operator purchased the system on or before December 15, 2017.

After December 15 2017 however the system would need to meet the design standard for such use:

(c) in the case of an unmanned aircraft system that the operator purchased after December 15, 2017, the system is designed and constructed in accordance with a standard set out in section 902.72;

That being said, the grandfathering has a MAJOR caveat as pointed out by one of our observant readers:

(3) Despite paragraph (1)(c), no person shall conduct the operations set out in paragraphs (2)(a), (b), (d), (g) and (i) in respect of any system that the operator purchased on or before December 15, 2017 unless the system is designed and constructed in accordance with a standard set out in section 902.72

This basically claws back most of the allowances that fully complaint UAVs have.  Grandfathered systems cannot:

  • (a) operations at an altitude that is above that set out in paragraph 902.10(b) under the circumstances set out in that paragraph, but not above 400 feet AGL;
  • (b) operations where the distance of the aircraft from the location from which the pilot is operating the aircraft is more than that set out in section 902.13, but not more than one nautical mile;
  • (d) operations at a distance that is less than the minimum distance from a built-up area set out in section 902.17;
  • (g) operations over or within a built-up area, conducted in accordance with sections 902.54 and 902.55, except operations carried out for the purposes of conducting flight training, research and development, or testing and evaluation
  • (i) operations in Class C, D or E airspace that meet the requirements of sections 902.57 to 902.59, except operations conducted for the purposes of conducting flight training, research and development, or testing and evaluation;

Basically the main benefits of grandfathering are removed.  The major ones being no operations in built-up areas or controlled airspace.

The allowances they are given are:

  • (c) operations at a distance that is less than the minimum distance from the centre of an aerodrome set out in section 902.15;
  • (e) operations at night conducted in accordance with sections 902.52 and 902.53;
  • (f) operations over or within an open-air assembly of persons, conducted in accordance with section 902.54;
  • (h) operations conducted in accordance with section 902.56, where the lateral distance of the aircraft from persons, vehicles or vessels is less than the minimum required by section 902.18;
  • (j) operations in Class F airspace, except operations in
    • (i) Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace — UAS Operations unless authorized under a special flight operations certificate — UAS issued under section 904.03, and
    • (ii) Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace — Military Operations unless authorized under section 902.60.

Proposed Canadian UAV Regs Review – Enforcement

One of the biggest gotchas with the existing regulations for both recreational & commercial drone use in Canada is enforcement, or better said lack there of.

Transport Canada staff are already stretched thin and it really has become a case of going after offenders after the fact when an incident happens.  As such many have gamed the system flying outside the laws to their advantage with little worry of getting caught.

Transport Canada hopes to better address this with the new regulations.

As per: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2017/2017-07-15/html/reg2-eng.php

Transport Canada would authorize external law enforcement agencies pursuant to section 4.3 of the Aeronautics Act to issue administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) for designated offences to complement enforcement actions by Transport Canada inspectorate. Such an approach would be consistent with and complement Transport Canada’s enforcement program.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would be first granted authorization to administer AMPs for non-compliance. The Department may also pursue similar partnerships with provinces, territories and municipalities, including bylaw officers, if UAV-related incidents continue to increase and additional enforcement capacity is required.

Following the coming into force of the Regulations, Transport Canada would conduct a concentrated enforcement campaign in areas where reports of unmanned aircraft incidents are at the highest frequency. Through this campaign, the Department would seek to educate users on their legal responsibilities, while also taking enforcement action should non-compliance be identified. This could range from verbal warnings to the issuance of administrative monetary penalties.

In addition to the enforcement strategy, Transport Canada would continue to actively conduct an education and outreach campaign to improve compliance. The Department would continue to build upon the “Safety First” web page, created in 2015, to provide tools for Canadians and to increase awareness of the risks associated with flying a UAV. The Department would work with the retail Council of Canada and point-of-sale retailers to provide consumers with information and to promote safety practices.

These proposed amendments would be enforced through the assessment of AMPs imposed under sections 7.6 to 8.2 of the Aeronautics Act, which carry a maximum fine of $3,000 for individuals and $25,000 for corporations, through suspension or cancellation of a Canadian aviation document, or through judicial action introduced by way of summary conviction, as per section 7.3 of the Aeronautics Act.

End of the day the proof will be in the enforcement pudding.  How much actual real world enforcement we will see and how much priority RCMP gives it is a major concern.  We have our doubt much if anything will change from the free for all that currently exists.  New regulations are great but with no teeth they will mean little to some.

Proposed Canadian UAV Regs Review – Flying Near/Over People

One the biggest restrictions under current UAV SFOC conditions is the requirement to maintain 100′ lateral distance from people and no overflights of crowds.

Under the proposed new regulations things have opened up a bit, within specific speed and altitude parameters, when operating under the small complex operations class:

As per: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2017/2017-07-15/html/reg2-eng.php

Operate at least 100 feet (30.48 m) from a person. A distance of less than 100 feet would be possible for operations if conditions such as a maximum allowed speed of 10 knots (11.5 mph) and a minimum altitude of 100 feet are respected;

Operate over or within open-air assemblies of persons if operated at an altitude of greater than 300 feet, but less than 400 feet, and from which, in the event of an emergency necessitating an immediate landing, it would be possible to land the aircraft without creating a hazard to persons or property on the surface;

This is a welcome change, however given the nature of the parameters we do see this easily being exploited and unenforceable.

EDIT – Aug 17 2017: During a recent Transport Canada session on the new regulations it was noted that to fly over people the UAV must be able to glide in the event of a failure.  This implies multicoipters would NOT be allowed to fly over crowds.  An example was given of a Sensefly eBee.  As per the presentation slide material:

“Flight over open air assembly of persons only above 300ft and UA can glide clear