Transport Canada Drone Regulations
*Disclosure* I am not affiliated with Transport Canada nor am I a lawyer, this is my interpretation of the regulations set out by the Government of Canada*
Great News: Its Easier Then Ever To Fly Drones in Canada!!! Or is it?
I have pored over the transport Canada regulations to understand when, where and if it is legal to fly in Canada. I got prompted to do this after reading of a Quebec man being fined $1000 for flying his drone. *Upon further investigation this man was fined because he was attempting to fly commercially by taking pictures of a house for sale.
To start when you visit the Transport Canada website above you can read the info graphic which seems pretty straight forward. For recreational pilots, if you have a standard drone under 35kg, like a DJI Phantom 2 Vision, there seems to be nothing to say you can't go flying, safely. Don’t fly over people, buildings, fly visual line of sight (sorry no FPV), lower than 90 meters (300ft). Have fun.
To me it is pretty straight forward for recreational flying.
The complications come when trying to fly for commercial operations. And the infographic is slightly misleading the first few times you ready it.
Here are the straight forward parts. If your drone weights over 35kg, you need a Special Operations Flight Certificate. Period.
If your drone weighs over 25kg and is used for commercial flight it needs a SFOC.
Now down to the nitty-gritty, I wont cover all the self-explanatory parts of the exception listed on the infographic below, or the things listed above as they all still apply. I will list some of the other requirements not initially realized when looking at the picture.
I’ll start with under 2kg for commercial flight as these apply to over 2.1kg and there is a few more added. Including those on the infographic you must:
- Only fly in Class G airspace
- Conduct a full site survey
- Stay minimum 5 nautical miles from any aerodrome
- Stay minimum 5 nautical miles away from any built up area
- Possibly have some sort of training on your UAV according to TC?
To add on to the under 2k class we move to the 2.1-25kg class. In addition to everything listed above you need:
- The Pilot must have successfully completed a pilot ground school program.
Those are the major add-ons to the infographic, and basically makes it so you CANNOT fly commercially within 5 miles or a City / Built up area, unless you apply for and are granted a SFOC. And you will need to complete a ground school program to fly over 2kg, as it is required for the SFOC as well.
Terminology Used Above:
Built up area: “Built-up areas are considered areas with groups of buildings or dwellings including anything from small hamlets to major cities. Anything larger than a farmstead should be considered a built up area” defined in Advisory Circular (AC) No. 600-004
Aerodrome: All airports are aerodrome, but not all aerodrome are airports. Canada Flight Supplement has listings of all registered aerodrome. Over water may be classed as an aerodrome because of pontoon planes.
Its not really as simple as just a license if you are going to be using the photos for business. There is a long process of getting an SFOC, and approval for inside city limits is difficult, then you would need to coordinate with the local airports. On top of that you need insurance which will run $1000 and up. If its for a simple photo you may be better off hiring a professional. If you want the drone for recreational use that is much easier to fly within the rules.