SI 623-001

UAV SFOC How To – Part 4 Where is the Application Form?

FormOne of the most asked questions we get is “where can we find the SFOC application form?”  The simple answer is there is no form.  There is also no defined format for the application.

Every applicant creates their own document outlining the details specific to their operation in the format they prefer. There is no defined order to the information either.  However logic should be applied to make it as clear and straight forward to understand as possible.  The more clear and concise the document the better your chance at it being understood and hopefully approved.

In order to apply for an SFOC, Certificate applicants will be required to create and submit an application in accordance with this SI. Prior to submitting an SFOC application the applicant is expected to assess the risks involved with the proposed operation and include appropriate mitigation measures as part of the application.

What may be confusing is mention of section 7.7 Standard Format for SFOC Cover Letter and 7.8 Standard Format for the SFOC being related to the application, however this is in reference to the letter and certificate the operator will receive from TC, not what they submit. (more…)

UAV SFOC How To – Part 2 Read & Read Some More

SIThe single best recommendation we can make when starting into the SFOC process for the first time is to READ all the documentation and related material fully and then READ IT AGAIN.

Like most government documents it will be full of a lot of new terminology and legalese that you may not be use to. Take your time, read it all, and don’t get frustrated.

We have posted a number of definitions to common terminology on the blog that can help shed some light on some of the more common and important items.

The main document you will be working with is the Staff Instruction (SI) No. 623-001 – Review and Processing of an Application for a Special Flight Operations Certificate for the Operation of an Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) System This document outlines the full requirements and procedure for making an SFOC application.

The purpose of this Staff Instruction (SI) is to provide Inspectors with the information, procedures and guidelines necessary to process a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) application and prepare an SFOC as required by section 602.41 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) for the safe conduct of unmanned air vehicle (UAV) system operations.

This SI has been prepared in line with the functional authority and direction given by the Headquarters (HQ), Flight Standards division that is the delegated functional specialist for flight operations involving UAV systems. This SI will aid HQ and Regional staff by providing guidelines with regard to national policies, directives and standards with the aim of standardizing UAV system SFOC processes. All personnel, directly or indirectly concerned with UAV system operations must be informed of, and apply the procedures contained in this SI.

This document is intended to be an accepted, consistent means to evaluate SFOC applications for UAV system flight operations. However, due to the rapid pace of technological developments in this field, this SI may not address all applicable safety concerns. As such, this will continue to be a living document and will be revised and/or supplemented at intervals to take account of lessons learned, changes in technology, harmonization with international regulations and feedback from the UAV industry.

While it may seem the document is for TC staff, it is meant for applicants as well:

Prior to submitting an SFOC application, Certificate applicants should read this SI (sections 1.0 through 8.0) and applicable Advisory Circulars for guidance on terms and definitions, general operating rules, risk management, liability insurance requirements, radiotelephone operator certificate requirements and general information.

It should be noted that all new applications must follow the process outlined in Staff Instruction (SI) No. 623-001. If you are an existing SFOC holder you will need to file under the new process when you reapply, so make sure to read all the new specifics or your application will most likely be rejected if it is based on the older instructions from prior to Nov 19.

Certificate applicants who hold a valid SFOC, as of the date this SI is published, may continue operations under that SFOC until that SFOC expires. When renewing said SFOC additional information may be required to ensure applicants meet the new requirements.

Also be sure to review the Transport Canada UAV section of their website.  This has additional information and documents that are related to commercial use of UAVs in Canada.

In addition to the SI document, we have also written a number of articles on the SFOC and SI document elements that are of good reference to help provide further clarity:

Indoor UAV Regulations

The question around the regulations for indoor commercial flights with UAVs and if SFOCs apply is an often asked question and one that previously was a grey area.

Under the new SI 623-001 document this has been further defined and clarified:

6.16 Indoor Operations
(1) The following TC policies apply when operating a UAV inside a building/structure or in a subterranean environment:
(a) Where only the UAV crew is present an SFOC is not required.
(b) Where only the UAV crew and people directly participating in the UAV operation are present (e.g. actors on a movie set) and no spectators or invited assembly of persons are present, an SFOC is not required. The UAV operator should ensure that all those participating in the operation are briefed on any potential hazards or risks.
(c) Where there are people within the structure who are not part of the UAV operation (e.g. spectators at a sporting event, participants at trade show demonstrations, etc.) an SFOC is required. The Certificate applicant should refer to the appropriate SFOC application process in this SI for further guidance.
(2) In all the above situations, the UAV operator shall gain consent of the land/property owner prior to any such operation.

Basically if spectators are present, people not directly involved in the shoot/event, then an SFOC is needed, otherwise you can operate with no SFOC for indoor flights.

New SFOC Application Process – Part 1

sfocBack in November Transport Canada (TC) made a number of press announcements around new exemptions being put in place governing the use of UAV for commercial purposes.  The intent of these new exemptions were to simplify the process of utilizing UAVs and take the load off the existing Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) application process to help streamline the overall process.

“These exemptions mark an important milestone in UAV safety. By easing restrictions for businesses, Canada is promoting growth and innovation in an important sector, while ensuring the continued safety of those on the ground and in the sky.”

The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport

However, the specifics of these new exemptions are very limiting in terms of when and where they can be used and they effectively are limited to very rural locations as we noted in these previous articles:

Under the exemptions the main limiting factor is the 5NM distance requirement from any airport or built up area, making the exemptions unusable for any work near towns or villages or larger urban areas.  There are also tight limits on altitude and distance to surrounding structures that further limit their use.  As a result many operators will  still require to use the SFOC process for most operations. (more…)