Drone usage in Canada

Aeryon Labs Scout
Aeryon Scout © Aeryon Labs

Transport Canada, the governmental body regulating all aircraft in Canada, announced new and simpler rules for UAV (drone) usage in Canada on Nov 5th.

The most important effect is the clarification of how UAVs are to be regulated in Canada. In the past, any commercial use (including videotaping from quadrotor, posting to YouTube, and getting add revenue) required getting an SFOC. This was a fairly painful and bureaucratic process. Not getting the SFOC and getting caught could mean tens of thousands of dollars of fines. Transport Canada is now revising this rule.

The bullet points:

  • UAVs cleared for any use under 2Kg (most quadrotors and RC planes out there) even commercial one like the aeryon scout.
  • “certain operations involving UAVs under 25 kilograms” are also cleared, though exactly what that means is so far unclear

What does this mean?

Well for one thing, amateur aerial videographers can breathe a little easier. This new regulation actually makes Canada one of the most permissive countries when it comes to UAV use. Canada is now even more permissive than the United States for UAV use, as different states have wildly different laws about their use. One of the most controversial rules in the States is the requirement to only fly in line of sight. This makes the growing sport of FPV (First Person View) flying technically illegal in some states. Keeping the drone in sight is suggested in Canada, but not a legal requirement as far as I understand it.

When I was a co-op at Aeryon Labs in Waterloo, we always had problems getting an SFOC approved in a timely and reasonable matter. This could sometimes lead to delays in our flight plans. This new regulation should make life a lot simpler for all GIS and info gathering uses of quadrotors.

Note that this new regulation just removes the SFOC impediment, it does not relax the regulations covering UAV usage. It is still up to the pilot to use the drone safely. Here is a handy guide:

Canada UAV infographic
Canada UAV infographic

Overall the new regulations should see more drone usage in every day work, while not decreasing safety in any reasonable way.

Full list of Rules Here

The new rules should come into effect at the start of December.


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