New Drone Regulation FAQs
Haven’t had a chance to view the new regulations? Check out our other post with a link to download the Gazette.
Now that many have had a chance to review the regulations published by Transport Canada on January 9th, inevitably many questions have been raised. Quick note before we get into this – the new regulations come into effect on June 1. Although some are being implemented now, they won’t be enforced until after June 1.
Big thank you to the RPAS Task Force at Transport Canada for making time to connect during this busy time to clarify some key points that are generating a lot of discussion.
- Visual observers (VO) are no longer mandatory crew members. The overarching rule of “don’t be reckless” still applies though, so use them when it makes sense to have them on site.
- If you are using VOs, either they or the pilot must have the drone in visual line of sight at all times. The VO needs to be able to communicate with the pilot at all times too.
- If you are flying with FPV goggles, you may use a VO to maintain line of sight provided you can maintain communication with the VO at all times.
- The regulation will permit the use of HUD-type goggles such as the google glass.
Drone Management Portal – Registration
- Aircraft can be registered to an organization. The personal name requested during registration should be the main contact at the organization.
- You can fly a drone that is not registered to you. It just needs to be registered to someone (that you have permission from to fly…)
- All drones need to be registered – even if you’re a modeller/home builder. That’s why they made it $5 each rather than $35 or $55 which is typically the standard fee.
- The drone registration portal is open now but will not be enforced until June 1.
Drone Management Portal – Testing
- The question bank for the tests is large and growing. While cases of rapid completion don’t specifically get flagged in the system, TC does look at pass rates and time-to-completion trends and can change the questions and even the frequency with which they appear. During the flight review process, advanced certificate applicants will be questioned on several knowledge topics as a proxy to verify they are the ones who wrote their exam.
- Expect some guidance material for the exam from TC in about a month. Unfortunately, they got tied up in beauracracy and weren’t able to be released at the same time as the Gazette.
- The requirement to hold a Basic Certificate to be able to fly the flight review is just weird phrasing. You don’t need to write both exams. You get a Basic Certificate when you write the Advanced Certificate online exam. So just bring proof of that to your flight review.
- Expect a few knowledge questions when you show up. Examples: What airspace are we in? How did you figure it out? What about if you were here *points to map*? How many GPS units does your drone have? What is its max takeoff weight?
- A flight review can be done on any RPA if done in uncontrolled airspace.
- There will be an exemption carve out for Flight Reviews coming next week. We’ll get more guidance then.
- The “reviewee” is considered PIC.
- The drone used in the flight review does not need to be registered to the PIC.
- The flight review is type agnostic. Do the test on a Spark? Fly a Matrice 600 Pro. Or an eBee. You should, however, make sure you’re competent on the machine you’re going to fly (refer to rule against being reckless).
- Safety Assurance can only come from the manufacturer
- The guidance material on this (AC – an Advisory Circular) will be released next week to stakeholders and manufacturers
- DJI has expressed interest in pursuing Safety Assurance but wants to see the AC before they decide/announce anything
Distance from People
- The 100′ horizontal distance from people mentioned in CAR 901.26 means freestanding bodies. “People” does not refer to those in cars or buildings. Asking people to step inside while you fly is totally reasonable under the new regulations.
- Only Canadian citizens and permanent residents may hold Basic and Advanced Certificates.
- Foreign operators will need to apply for an SFOC. Before you freak out let’s remember what an SFOC actually is. Not all SFOC applications follow the format we’re used to calling “an SFOC”. SFOCs have existed in the aviation industry looooong before RPAS were around and come in many shapes and sizes. It was just a convenient stop-gap to use in the drone industry until our new regulations were published and we got used to thinking of them as one specific thing. An SFOC is just that – a special authorization to conduct a flight outside of what the regulations cover. If someone holds a foreign license/certificate/permit from their country of origin, it may be possible to authorize a flight (read: issue an SFOC) based on that certification alone. A TC inspector needs to make that decision though as there is no international standard for licenses/certificates/permits. Those from nations with established procedures (USA, Australia, New Zealand, and the countries of the EU for example) will likely run into minimal issues. It may not be ideal, but at least there’s a process.
Do you have questions about what’s next for you? Tune into our Facebook Live event on Monday, January 14th!