How to Fly Drones Legally in Canada (Part 2)
This blog by AirBlade UAV is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind and may not be used for professional or commercial purposes. It is the readers' responsibility to refer to the Canadian Aviation Regulations and its related guidance to make the operation of your drone comply with the law of Canada.
AirBlade Uav is a drone product provider with top-notch customer services in North America; AirBlade is run by pilots and for pilots. Learn more about us at https://www.airbladeuav.com/.
HOW TO FLY YOUR DRONE LEGALLY IN CANADA (Part 2)
DRONES NEED REGISTRATIONS AND DRONE PILOTS NEED CERTIFICATES
Advance operation of drones
If you are flying your drone under just ONE of the following conditions, then you are conducting an advanced operation:
- In controlled airspace
- Over bystanders
- Within 30 metres (100 feet) of bystanders (measured horizontally)
- Less than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or a military aerodrome
- Less than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport
To fly your drone legally under basic operation, you must make sure:
- To be at least 16 years of age, or to fly the drone under the supervision of a person at least 16 years of age and who is allowed by law to fly under advanced operation.
- To register your drone
- To hold a pilot certificate — small remotely piloted aircraft (VLOS) — advanced operations
- To be authorized by NAV Canada or the Department of the National Defence to fly in controlled airspace.
Flight authorization from NAV Canada can be get at https://www.navcanada.ca/en/flight-planning/drone-flight-planning.aspx
- To not fly the drone in either of the following circumstances unless the manufacturer’s declaration AND the certificate of registration specifies the drone is capable of:
- operations in controlled airspace;
- 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
- operations at a distance of less than 16.4 feet (5 m) from another person, measured horizontally and at any altitude.
- To not fly the drone in uncontrolled airspace unless you provide the air traffic services at the area of operation with the following information and get the authorization by them:
- Unless the following information is provided to the provider of air traffic services in the area of operation before a proposed operation and an authorization has been issued by that provider:
- the date, time and duration of the operation;
- the category, registration number and physical characteristics of the aircraft;
- the vertical and horizontal boundaries of the area of operation;
- the route of the flight to access the area of operation;
- the proximity of the area of operation to manned aircraft approaches and departures and to patterns of traffic formed by manned aircraft;
- the means by which two-way communications with the appropriate air traffic control unit will be maintained;
- the name, contact information and pilot certificate number of any pilot of the aircraft;
- the procedures and flight profiles to be followed in the case of a lost command and control link;
- the procedures to be followed in emergency situations;
- the process and the time required to terminate the operation; and
- any other information required by the provider of air traffic services that is necessary for the provision of air traffic management.
- To comply with all of the air traffic control instructions directed at you
- To not fly the drone within three nautical miles from the centre of an airport or within one nautical mile from the centre of a heliport unless complying with the established procedure with respect to the drone flying applicable to that airport or heliport.
- To fly the drone within its operational limit
- Keep your skills up to date within 24 months preceding the flight
Application to obtain pilot certificate can be made through the Portal. To obtain a pilot certificate for advanced operation, a person must:
- Be at least 16 years old
- Pass the Small Advanced Exam, and
- Have successfully completed a flight review within 12 months before the date of application.
The Small Advanced Exam will be conducted online through the Portal; the knowledge covered in the exam is presented in the following topics of the Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, 250 g up to and including 25 kg, Operating within Visual Line-of-Sight (VLOS):
- applicable provisions of the Aeronautics Actand the CARs,
- air traffic rules and procedures,
- RPAS airframes, power plants, propulsion and systems,
- human factors, including pilot decision-making,
- air navigation,
- flight operations,
- theory of flight,
- radiotelephony, and
- operations carried out by remotely piloted aircraft systems under Part IX of the Regulations;
After passing the exam, potential pilots must then pass a flight review with a flight reviewer; a flight review contains the following exercises:
- describe the site survey process,
- describe emergency procedures that apply to flying an RPAS, including lost-link procedures and procedures to follow in the event of a fly-away, including who to contact,
- describe the method by which to inform Transport Canada of an incident or accident,
- successfully perform pre-flight checks of their RPAS,
- perform a take-off,
- demonstrate the ability to navigate around obstacles,
- demonstrate the ability to recognize distances, and
- perform a landing.
The skills needed to complete a flight review can be found in Appendix A of the Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, 250 g up to and including 25 kg, Operating within Visual Line-of-Sight (VLOS).
To conduct a flight review, you need to contact a drone flight school to schedule one; drone flight schools across Canada can be found at https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety/drone-pilot-licensing/find-drone-flight-school.
Pilots must show the proof of keeping their skills up to date within 24 months preceding the flight, which means during that time:
- They hold a pilot certificate - advanced operation, or
- They passed the Small Advanced Exam, or
- They completed a flight review, or
- If they are already possessing pilot certificates, they have completed a recurrent training activity by completing; this includes completing the questionnaire at https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety/getting-drone-pilot-certificate/remotely-piloted-aircraft-system-rpas-recency-requirements-self-paced-study-program from question 1 to 26, then print the completed questionnaire and keep it with you when flying.
A pilot must always make sure the registration number of the drone and the pilot certificate are “easily accessible” during the flight. In the case of not having a pilot certificate, a pilot must make sure the proof of completing an exam, or of completing a recurrent training activity (i.e., the completed questionnaires), or of completing a flight review “easily accessible” during the flight.
Special flight operations certificate – SFOC
If you are in either of the following circumstances, you need to get a special flight operations certificate – SFOC before flying your drone:
- Your drone weighs more than 25 kg (55 pounds);
- You fly your drone beyond visual line-of-sight,
- You are a foreigner, i.e., not a Canadian citizen, a Canadian permanent resident, or a corporation operating under Canadian laws.
- You fly your drone at an altitude greater 400 feet (122 m) above ground level or 100 feet than 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.
- You fly more than five drones at a time from a single control station
- You fly your drone at a special aviation event or at an advertised event. Advertised events include outdoor events that are advertised to the general public, including concerts, festivals, markets or sporting events.
- If your drone is transporting a payload that
- includes explosive, corrosive, flammable, or bio-hazardous material;
- includes weapons, ammunition or other equipment designed for use in war;
- could create a hazard to aviation safety or cause injury to persons; or
- is attached to the aircraft by means of a line unless such an operation is conducted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- You fly your drone within three nautical miles of an aerodrome operated under the authority of the Minister of National Defence, and
- In other specific circumstances notified by the Minister of Transport of Canada
To get an SFOC, first you need to obtain the pilot certificate for the type of operation you intend to conduct, then fill in an application at https://wwwapps.tc.gc.ca/Corp-Serv-Gen/5/forms-formulaires/download/26-0835_BO_PX and gather all relevant documents.
You then send the completed application and relevant documents to the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Centre of Expertise by:
- Email at: TC.RPASCentre-CentreSATP.TC@tc.gc.ca, or
- FAX at: 1-855-633-3697,
- Mail at: RPAS Center of Expertise, 700, Leigh-Capreol Place Dorval, Quebec H4Y 1G7
It may take the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Centre of Expertise up to 30 business days to process your application and issue an SFOC.
Notes to drones under 250 g
Flying of drones weighing under 250 (excluding the weight of the remote control but including the weight of any attachments) does not require registration or pilot certificates. However, pilots are expected to fly their drones not in reckless or negligent manners.
Transport Canada’s brochure on recommended acts for pilots of drones under 250 g can be found at https://tc.canada.ca/sites/default/files/2020-06/2019-2020-AA-33_INFOGRAPHIC_EN_V8.pdf