How to read VNC VFR Navigation Charts & The Legend

How to read VNC VFR Navigation Charts & The Legend

Blog: How to Read VNCs (VFR Navigation Charts)

Publications – Canadian VFR Navigation Charts (VNCs)

Paper charts might seem outdated in the digital age, but there’s a lot of useful information on our yellow and blue pastel friends, and with digital chart options now freely available, knowing how to read a VNC is more useful than ever.

Want to learn more?

This content and more is covered extensively in our five-star online drone pilot ground school. We offer both Basic and Advanced online training courses to help you get ready for the Transport Canada online exams at your own pace from the comfort of your home.

The Basics – What is a VNC and a VTA?

Nav Canada, our ANSP (Air Navigation Service Provider) is a private company responsible for production, maintenance, and upkeep of our aeronautical charts for Canadian Domestic Airspace.  These charts are provided at two levels of scale, 1:500,000 (VNC) and 1:250,000 (VTA).  The VNC (the VFR Navigation Chart) is intended for VFR (Visual Flight Rules) navigation by dead reckoning (visual tracking of a target against a position, time, and speed over ground), and the VTA is similar but intended for use in busier terminal areas such as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Winnipeg.

Some quick facts about the VNC:

  • There are 52 VNC charts published at 1:500,000 scale covering the entirety of Canada.
  • The VNC Charts are intended for visual navigation for operations at or below 12,500′ above sea level.

Some quick facts about the VTA:

  • There are 7 VTA charts published at 1:250,000 scale covering high traffic areas – Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
  • The backside of the VTA chart has specific route procedures for helicopters and airplanes moving in and out of common airports and call points.
  • Some airports may not allow you clearance into their area as a helicopter or airplane if you do not have the VTA handy!

 

First, a word of caution. 

If your resource charts look dark, like this: rather than pastel like this:

you’re using a US-based chart. No bueno. Find a new resource.

The VNC Legend – AERODROMES

There are 10 types of symbols used on charts to depict aerodromes – a location where an aircraft can takeoff or land – on the Canadian VNC.  They are broken down into 2 Main Categories – aerodromes with services (fuel, customs, cookies) and other aerodromes (basic strips and heliports), and are further broken down by the type of surface the aerodrome has (hard paved surfaces, or grass &gravel, or water).

Aerodrome data on the VNC and VTA can be found within the vicinity of the aerodrome symbol, usually within the controlled airspace boundary, or by following a callout line to the nearest box.  For larger airports inside controlled airspace, you may not find radio frequencies in the aerodrome data box, but instead they will be identified in the controlled airspace stack.  Let’s decipher a few here:

 

 

 

Valemount, British Columbia (Class G - Registered Aerodrome BASIC)

 

Valemount, BC is a registered aerodrome (not a certified airport) with a hard surface that runs Northwest-Southeast that lies in Class G airspace at the intersection of three VFR low level airways, just to the west of Mount Terry Fox Provincial Park near Mt. Robson, and just north of the town of Valemount.

There are a total of 4 aerodromes in the immediate vicinity of the town of Valemount, with a Helipad at Yellowhead Helicopters directly to the east (and an abandoned strip), and a helipad south along Highway 5 at CMH Helicopters Heli-Ski base.

Despite the number of aerodromes in the area, a basic rpas pilot can fly a drone here as none of the facilities at this time are certified.

If we look closely at the aerodrome data field for Valemount, we see that the aerodrome field elevation is 2616 feet above sea level, the runway is 39×100 (3900) feet long, and there is a Aerodrome Traffic Frequency of 123.2.

The helipad at Yellowhead Helicopters directly east of the aerodrome, and the pad at CMH share the same Aerodrome Traffic Frequency of 123.2 to aid in aircraft traffic awareness.

 

Golden, British Columbia (Class G - Registered Aerodrome ADVANCED)

 

Golden, BC is a registered aerodrome (not a certified airport) with a hard surface that runs Northwest-Southeast that lies in Class G airspace at the intersection of three VFR low level airways, just to the west of Yoho National Park.

Despite being “only” a registered aerodrome in Class G, to fly near the town of Golden you must still be an Advanced Pilot Certificate holder, why is this?

That’s right, the Golden General Hospital directly southeast of the aerodrome is a certified heliport which means there is a 1NM radius limitation for Basic Pilot Certificate holders.

If we look closely at the aerodrome data field, we see that the Golden aerodrome field elevation is 2576 feet above sea level, the runway is 45×100 (4500) feet long, and there is a Mandatory Frequency of 122.8.

When reporting your position, the airport is referred to as “Golden” on the radio.

There is an aerodrome data field for the hospital heliport directly below, which shows the pad elevation is at 2575 feet above sea level, and has the same frequency of 122.8.

 

Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (Class E Regional)

 

Prince Albert, Saskatchewan is a single-strip airport with hard surfaces oriented in the East-West direction, inside of a Class E Control Zone with a Mandatory Frequency of 122.3.  To the west of the airstrip is the PA Fire Center Heliport, and to the southwest is the Victoria Memorial Hospital Helipad.

If we look closely at the aerodrome data field, we see that the Prince Albert field elevation is 1405 feet above sea level, the runway is 50x100 feet long, and there is a Mandatory Frequency of 122.3.

When reporting your position, the airport is referred to as “Glass Field” on the radio.

VDF – The VDF means the airport is equipped with a VHF Direction Finding system, meaning the FSS operator can see the direction of a VHF transmission relative to the station, allowing them to “guide” an inbound aircraft on “vdf steers”.

 

Regina, Saskatchewan (Class D International)

 

Regina, Saskatchewan is an International Airport with two major runways (hard surfaces) oriented North West – South East and East – West in the center of a Class D control zone extending from the surface to 5000′ above sea level (3100′ above aerodrome elevation.)  The control zone extends for 5 miles radius around the center of Regina International Airport.

Within that control zone, directly east of the airport, is also Regina General Hospital Heliport.

All Aircraft entering the Class D zone must contact Regina Tower on VHF 118.6.

If we look closely at the aerodrome data field, we see that the Regina International (customs are available) field elevation is 1895 feet above sea level, the longest runway is 79×100 (7900) feet long, and there is a Control Tower Frequency of 118.6.

The tower has limited hours, and the O/T (overtime) service is a M for Mandatory Frequency.  You would find the operating hours hours in the Canada Flight Supplement.

ATIS (Automated Terminal Information Service) is available – you would see the COMM section of the Canada Flight Supplement to find the frequency.

 

Winnipeg, Manitoba (Class C International)

 

Winnipeg / James Armstrong Richardson International, in Winnipeg, Manitoba is an International Airport with two major runways (hard surfaces) oriented North West – South East and North East – South West in the center of a Class C control zone extending from the surface to 3000′ above sea level (2200′ above aerodrome elevation.)  The control zone extends for 7 miles radius around the center of Winnipeg International Airport.

Above that control zone, is another Class C Control Zone from 3000′ ASL to 12,500′ ASL that is a terminal area extension that extends for 16 miles radius from the center of Winnipeg International Airport.

Within that control zone, directly east of the airport, is also Winnipeg Health Sciences Center Hospital Heliport, and the City of Winnipeg Heliport.

All Aircraft entering the Class C lower control zone must contact Winnipeg Tower on VHF 118.3.  Aircraft transiting the upper terminal control zone must contact Winnipeg Terminal on 119.9.

If we look closely at the aerodrome data field, we see that the Winnipeg International (customs are available) field elevation is 784 feet above sea level, the longest runway is 110×100 (11000) feet long, and there is a Control Tower Frequency of 118.3.

ATIS (Automated Terminal Information Service) is available – you would see the COMM section of the Canada Flight Supplement to find the frequency.

Directly north of the airport is a VORTAC (VHF Omnidirectional Range / Tactical Air Navigation System beacon), can you find the symbol for it?

 

The VNC Legend – AIRSPACE INFORMATION

Sections of airspace are depicted through multiple types of borders and boundaries.  Looking at the above legend from a clockwise manner, let’s start with control zones.

B, C, D and E control zones will be depicted with hard blue boundary lines when they extend from the surface upwards.  You can see examples of C, D, and E control zones in the aerodrome info section above for Prince Albert, Regina, & Winnipeg airports.  At the moment, there aren’t any Class B control zones in Canada that extend to the surface (but there is controlled airspace starting at 12,500′ ASL and above!)

Class F special use airspace (Advisory, Danger, or Restricted) will have the inward facing perpendicular lines, and are used to denote blasting areas, airspace over prisons, military training areas, aerobatic training areas, and other special areas (see the activity codes for examples). 

The CYA 118(A) in the example above is Advisory Airspace #118 (you can look it up in the Designated Airspace Handbook) which is currently listed as CYA118(A)(T)(H) in Duncan, BC. 

 Here’s an outline of CYA118 annotated visually.  What other airspace overlaps with the Class F CYA outlined in this airspace block?  

Class F Special Use Airspace

 

Class F special use airspace (Advisory, Danger, or Restricted) will have the inward facing perpendicular lines, and are used to denote blasting areas, airspace over prisons, military training areas, aerobatic training areas, and other special areas (see the activity codes for examples). 

The CYA 118(A) in the example above is Advisory Airspace #118 (you can look it up in the Designated Airspace Handbook) which is currently listed as CYA118(A)(T)(H) in Duncan, BC. 

 Here’s an outline of CYA118 annotated visually.  What other airspace overlaps with the Class F CYA outlined in this airspace block?  

If you look at the airspace stack within the CYA118 above, you will see the following – above 700 feet above ground, the airspace is Class E (but no contact is required) up to 5500′ ASL.  From 5500′ ASL up to 12,500′ ASL, the airspace is a terminal area extension control zone, class C, and you must contact Victoria Terminal at 127.8 on VHF prior to entry.


The CYA 118 Class F airspace overlaps with the Class E airspace from surface to 3000′ ASL.

Class E Airspace, VHF Airways, Radio Aids to Navigation

Class E airspace is used to provide increased weather minima (controlled airspace has a lower tolerance for bad weather) and to provide separation between Instrument Flight Rules aircraft that are transiting an airway or transitioning from higher Class B airspace down towards an airport control zone.  (See more about airspace here)

Because Class E airspace can often exist over top of Class G airspace (in that it doesn’t extend all the way to the surface), there are stepped boundaries to show that the airspace doesn’t end, it just gets higher or lower depending on what side of the boundary you fly into.

Here’s an example: let’s look at Bella Bella, British Columbia.  It’s a Class G airport (certified aerodrome) that is at the intersection of 4 VHF Low-Altitude Airways centered at the YJQ Non Directional Beacon.  If you look in the TCAIM AT RAC 2.7.1 – you see that VHF Airways are controlled airspace, that can extend from 2200′ AGL up to 18,000 ASL within 4 nautical miles of each side of the centerline of the airway.  Because part of the basis of these 3 airways is a NDB, the width is extended to 4.34NM to allow for less precise navigation.

In the Designated Airspace Handbook, there is the following airspace surrounding Bella Bella:

  • A Class E Transition Area for 12,500′ and below in a 15 mile radius circle centered on the Bella Bella Aerodrome
  • A Class E Control Area Extension for 12,500′ and below in a 25 mile radius circle centered on the Bella Bella NDB
  • Low Level Airway A10 from Bella Bella NDB to Prince Rupert NDB (Class E 2200 AGL to 18,000 ASL)
  • Low Level Airway B25 from Bella Bella NDB to Kitimat NDB to Terrace NDB (Class E 2200 AGL to 18,000 ASL)
  • Low Level Airway V317 from Bella Bella NDB to Port Hardy BC VOR (Class E 2200 AGL to 18,000 ASL)
  • Low Level Airway V440 from Bella Bella NDB to Port Hardy VOR and to Sandspit VOR (Class E 2200 AGL to 18,000 ASL)

Why does the Class E airspace not extend right to the surface in Bella Bella?  

My understanding is, in order to allow for low-weather operations, the airspace is left as class G up to 700′ AGL so that floatplanes and helicopters can operate in low-visibility (less than 3NM, clear of cloud) Marginal or Special VFR conditions.

Air/Ground Communication Boxes

Flight Service Stations (FSS) are radio stations either positioned at airports, aerodromes, or remotely towered in central facilities.  If the box has a heavy line, there are standard frequencies that the FSS would be available on.   Flight Service Stations are to provide enroute weather, traffic, or nav services and aren’t really relevant to RPAS pilots.

You will likely see a question on the Advanced Pilot Certificate exam regarding magnetic variation, and so it’s a good idea to know what the lines look like, which can be found in the miscellaneous section of the VNC legend.

Want to learn more?

This content and more is covered extensively in our five-star online drone pilot ground school. We offer both Basic and Advanced online training courses to help you get ready for the Transport Canada online exams at your own pace from the comfort of your home.

Here are the resources we referenced for the airpace images!

FLTplan.com (VTAs and VNCs)

Drone Site Selection Tool

Nav Drone

————

How Long are our Courses?

How Long are our Courses?

How long are our Drone Courses?

February 8, 2022

File this under FAQ, but this question gets asked frequently enough that it’s worth a standalone post.

All of our courses are available online and can be started as soon as you register.

Once you register, you’ll receive a welcome email from us that will allow you to log in to our course for the first time.

Once you have registered for a course you will have access to the course material for 12 months.

Additionally, since our courses are all delivered online, you can create a schedule that works for you.

 

“In theory, if you started in the morning, you could be flying your drone legally with a Basic Certificate within the same day!”

Basic Online Bundle

The Basic Online course will allow you to fly a small RPAS in a Basic environment in Canada. This course is composed of just under 2 hours of video lessons and about 1 hour of written material to review. In order to be prepared for the Transport Canada exam, you should plan on spending another 2 hours on exam preparation and document review.

Once the course is complete, you will need to take the Transport Canada Basic exam. Transport Canada allows you to take up to 90 minutes to complete this exam.

This course, including writing the Transport Canada exam, can be completed in about 6 to 7 hours.  In theory, if you started in the morning, you could be flying your drone legally within the same day!

Advanced Online Course 

The Advanced Online course will walk you through everything you need to know and do, up to, but not including, the flight review.  You can use this course if you don’t plan to do the flight review right away but want as much knowledge as possible.

This course includes about 20 hours of video, about 3 hours of written material to read through. Students should also plan to spend up to 4 hours reviewing practice questions. In total, you can complete this course and complete the 1 hour exam in about 28 to 30 hours.

Once you complete your exam, you will still need to complete a flight review before you are granted the privileges of the Advanced Certificate.

Advanced Pilot Bundle

The Advanced Online Pilot course has the same content as the Advanced Online course, but this course also includes the material that you will need to complete your flight review, and the pre-paid flight review done in-person. The flight review preparation should take about 3 to 4 hours to work through.

That makes this course an overall length of about 31 to 34 hours of work, and that should include your written exam and your flight review

Conclusion

Understanding all of the rules and regulations can be confusing.

Let us help you start your training today so that you can fly legally and with confidence.

If you’re not sure which course is right for you, check out these articles on where you can fly with a Basic certificate and where you can fly with an Advanced certificate.

Need MORE INFORMATION?

GRAB OUR Free E-Book

Learn what it takes to get a drone pilot certificate!  Also included is some great information about where the drone industry is going.

Where Can You Fly With A Basic Certificate?

Where Can You Fly With A Basic Certificate?

Where can you fly with a basic Drone Pilot certificate?

February 3, 2022

Understanding the Intent Behind the Regulations

When it comes down to it, ultimately Transport Canada is in the business of mitigating risk. When it comes to drones, TC essentially has several risk categories, and those categories all relate to the weight of drones as well as the proximity to people and aircraft. 

The weight of the drone matters because with increased weight, the drone will have more kinetic energy that can do more damage if something goes wrong. The proximity to people matters because people are what TC is trying to protect from airborne things with lots of kinetic energy. Finally, the aircraft bit follows from this, because they also carry people. Additionally, if a drone hits an aircraft and causes it to crash, then the aircraft is an object that has even more kinetic energy than the drone. 

Drones that weigh less than 250 grams are considered light enough that their kinetic energy doesn’t create a sufficiently high level of risk to require users to register their drones with Transport Canada.

Next up the threat level ladder are drones that weigh between 250 grams and 25 kg. These are heavy enough to warrant drone pilot training and drone registration. This weight category is further subdivided into two categories, and those are based on the proximity to people and aircraft. This is where Basic and Advanced drone certification will come into play.

Finally, the highest level on the threat level ladder is drones that weigh more than 25 kg, or drones that the pilot would like to fly outside of the normal regulations that apply to Basic and Advanced drone pilots.

The geography of the area surrounding an airport may not respect the TC rules, and so the size of the zones surrounding airports may be less than 3 nm if, for example, there are mountains next to an airport.”

Basic Certification

Now that you understand a little more about how and why Transport Canada uses risk levels to determine how to regulate drone pilots, let’s talk about the privileges that come with a Basic drone certificate.

With a Basic drone certificate you can:

  1. Fly in uncontrolled airspace;
  2. Fly more than 30 meters horizontally from bystanders;
  3. Fly more than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport; and
  4. Fly more than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport.

But wait, there’s more.

Take a look at this screenshot of a map from the Drone Site Selection Tool and you may notice that you are not allowed to fly within about 7 nautical miles to the east of the Vancouver International Airport if you have a Basic Certificate. 

The 3 nm and 1 nm rule from airports and heliports lays out the general framework, but there are instances where these rules don’t pan out in reality. The reason for this discrepancy comes down to a few factors, and those are:

  1. Geography;
  2. Nearby airports; and
  3. Airport utilization

The geography of the area surrounding an airport may not respect the TC rules, and so the size of the zones surrounding airports may be less than 3 nm if, for example, there are mountains next to an airport.

Nearby airports may have the effect of making one airports zone larger to accommodate the paths that piloted aircraft require to safely navigate in and out of airports.

Airport utilization generally creates much larger zones where Basic drone pilots are not allowed to fly because these airports often accommodate larger aircraft, or sometimes just more aircraft, and therefore the airports need to designate more airspace for piloted aircraft to be able to maneuver.

If the rules don’t match the reality, then how, you may ask, are you supposed to know where you can and can’t fly with a Basic certificate?

Resources: Drone Site Selection Tool

The National Research Council has created a Tool that answers the question of where you are allowed to fly with a Basic drone certificate.

When the webpage loads, the default view already shows you where you can fly with a Basic certificate. The red areas on the map are all areas where you are not allowed to fly with a Basic certificate. When zoomed out, this map shows that the vast majority of Canada is open to drone pilots with a Basic certificate, however, zooming in on the map tells a dramatically different story. You’ll notice that for the vast majority of the population centres flying with a Basic certificate is not allowed. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Port Hardy and Port McNeill

   

You can see that the entire area over the town of Port Hardy and Port McNeil, drone pilots with a Basic certificate are not permitted to fly with a small RPAS

Vancouver and the Lower Mainland

    Once again, note that in the areas where the vast majority of people live in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, a Basic certificate will not allow you to fly your small RPAS.

Calgary

The story is the same in Calgary. Shooting from the hip, it looks like approximately 80% of the city and surrounding suburbs do not allow drone pilots to fly with only a Basic certificate.  You’re going to have to drive well out of town before you can get in the air legally.  Pretty difficult to do downtown Calgary drone real-estate from Bragg Creek.

Regina

Same as Calgary!  Well, at least you can fly in Richardson.

Saskatoon

Same here.  Notice how the Costco in both Saskatoon and Regina is outside the red zone at least?

Winnipeg

So much red.  Have you read the story about the Gimli Glider?  Yeah, you can’t fly there either.

Toronto

Yeeeeeeah no.  Definitely not the CN tower.  You’re going to Scarborough or Pickering to get outside of the zone.

Montreal

Ce n’est pas possible presque partout à Montréal

Proximity to People

It’s important to remember that all of the examples that we have gone through are ONLY addressing the rules regarding flying close to piloted aircraft. This is because the map only shows areas where you are prohibited from flying because airports are nearby.

Recall though, that with a basic certificate you also need to make sure that your drone doesn’t come within 30 meters (about 100 feet) horizontally of bystanders. In essence, this means that there is a 200 foot diameter cylinder centered on every bystander in the country, where you are not allowed to fly with a Basic certificate.

Once you take the “proximity to people” component of this equation into account, it should become clear that for the vast majority of people in Canada, a Basic certificate will not be adequate to allow you to fly your small RPAS in populated areas.

Conclusion

To wrap this all up in a bow, we have reviewed how to find and use the Drone Site Selection Tool and we’ve also gone over how keeping away from airports and heliports isn’t sufficient to ensure that you are flying legally with a Basic drone certificate.

Always make sure that you maintain the appropriate distance between your drone and bystanders! If you’d like to unlock your permission achievement, then we suggest you take a look at our Advanced certificate training course so that you can fly closer to airports and bystanders. Take care and fly safe!

Need MORE INFORMATION?

GRAB OUR Free E-Book

Learn what it takes to get a drone pilot certificate!  Also included is some great information about where the drone industry is going.

Canadian Logbook Requirements for Drone Pilots

Canadian Logbook Requirements for Drone Pilots

Canadian logbook requirements for Drone pilots

February 3, 2022

Drone Logbook Requirements

Today we’re going to look at the requirements when it comes to record keeping for your drone. Did you know that you need to maintain a logbook with the details of every flight? You’re also supposed to keep a log of every maintenance action or modification that is done to your drone.

So give us a couple minutes of your time, and we’ll give you the low down on the requirements to log your drone flights and maintenance.  This is pretty important, if you fail to comply with the regulations, you could be facing up to $1000 in fines per occurrence!  

“keep a record that includes the names of the pilots and crew members involved in each flight, as well as the time of each flight or series of flights.”

Pilot Flight Logs

The following requirements apply to drones or RPAS weighing 250 grams or more in Canada.

Transport Canada regulations require you to keep a record that includes the names of the pilots and crew members involved in each flight, as well as the time of each flight or series of flights. There are some things you should know. The DJI app that you use when flying your drone does log the flight information required by a logbook, except that it doesn’t record the pilot information. If you are the only person using your drone (like, ever) then this would technically meet the requirements. If you do this, it would probably be a good idea to document that you are the only pilot somewhere.

If you’re ever likely to have someone else at the controls of your drone, it’s a good idea to sort out a log book that tracks the pilot and crew of each individual flight. There are several ways of accomplishing this, but we’d suggest that you check out FLYSAFE, by AirMarket. They have a free version that should meet the needs of any recreational flyer. The paid tiers of FlySafe have reasonable monthly costs and can really be helpful for companies that have to track several drones and pilots. You can find out more about FlySafe and other compliant logbook options here.

Maintenance

Yes, you also have an obligation to track any maintenance that has been performed on your drone. This is covered in CARs 901.48 which explains that you must record any mandatory action and any other maintenance action, modification or repair performed on the system, including:

Records
  •  (1) Every owner of a remotely piloted aircraft system shall keep the following records:

    • (a) a record containing the names of the pilots and other crew members who are involved in each flight and, in respect of the system, the time of each flight or series of flights; and

    • (b) a record containing the particulars of any mandatory action and any other maintenance action, modification or repair performed on the system, including

      • (i) the names of the persons who performed them,

      • (ii) the dates they were undertaken,

      • (iii) in the case of a modification, the manufacturer, model and a description of the part or equipment installed to modify the system, and

      • (iv) if applicable, any instructions provided to complete the work

Above is an example of a combined drone pilot and maintenance logbook.  This can be created in Microsoft Excel, or Google Sheets, but must be kept in a manner that all changes are tracked in a changelog, so that there is no chance of modification without a record.  Google Sheets does this in version history, but it’s still easy to change records.

In terms of maintenance, you need to track: Who performed them, When they were performed, In the case of modifications, the manufacturer, model and a description of the part, and If applicable, any instructions provided to complete the work.

The minimum standard for this could be a spreadsheet showing every entry with columns for the above requirements, stored on paper securely, or electronically in a manner that ensures it cant be tampered with or adjusted without a record of all changes.

Once again, there are several ways to track this information, but FlySafe, from AirMarket can also fulfill these requirements. Their software can help you streamline the whole flight documentation process, including the site survey!

Record Keeping

So how long do you need to keep the flight and maintenance logs? The CARs spells this out for us too in 901.48(2), where it tells us that we need to hold onto our pilot records for 12 months and our maintenance records for 24 months from the day on which they were created. The last detail here is that if you sell your drone, you need to give the new owner all of the maintenance records that fall within that 24 month timeframe. You do not, however, need to transfer the pilot logs to the new owner of your drone, which is why it is a good idea to keep those records separate.

  • (2) Every owner of a remotely piloted aircraft system shall ensure that the records referred to in subsection (1) are made available to the Minister on request and are retained for a period of

    • (a) in the case of the records referred to in paragraph (1)(a), 12 months after the day on which they are created; and

    • (b) in the case of the records referred to in paragraph (1)(b), 24 months after the day on which they are created.

  • (3) Every owner of a remotely piloted aircraft system who transfers ownership of the system to another person shall, at the time of transfer, also deliver to that person all of the records referred to in paragraph (1)(b).

So, there you have it, the logbook record keeping requirements all wrapped up in a nice big metaphorical bow, like an early birthday present, unless your birthday is today, in which case this is right on time, and happy birthday, by the way!

Conclusion and Solutions

However you do it, you must create some sort of immutable record of your drone flights, and any maintenance actions that are performed.  You don’t need to send them to anyone, but you must have them available in the future.

Coastal Drone Co. offers training, compliance solutions and remote pilot services and we’d love to help you if you intend to incorporate drones into your business.

Contact us if you would like any help with the services that we offer and we’d be happy to help.

Need MORE INFORMATION?

GRAB OUR Free E-Book

Learn what it takes to get a drone pilot certificate!  Also included is some great information about where the drone industry is going.

Drone Program Startup – A Cost Benefit Analysis

Drone Program Startup – A Cost Benefit Analysis

What DOES it Take to START A Drone Program?

By Mark Watkins, November 10, 2021

The Cost / Benefit Analysis

There are countless examples of efficiencies that can be realized when a company decides to run their own drone program. In many cases, the demand for flying is just so specific or frequent, that it only makes sense for a company to do it themselves. Having said that, no matter what the size or complexity of your drone operation, there are certain considerations that every operator should be aware of. In this article, we’ll show you how to decide if an internal company drone program makes sense, or if that is something that would be better outsourced to a third party.

“To build an in-house drone program, we estimate that your initial costs will be between $32,600 to $75,100 for your first drone. Each additional drone will have an initial cost of $12,600 to $55,100.”

Drone Program Cost Factors

To make an informed decision, we’ll start by pricing out the costs that should be considered when planning and building an internal drone program. There are 6 major categories that we’ll consider: 

  1. Training
  2. Insurance
  3. Compliance
  4. Equipment
  5. Pilots 
  6. Administration

It’s important to note that the prices that we have used for each component of a drone program may vary compared to what your actual costs would be. Tinker with our data to tailor the results to more accurately reflect your actual costs.

Training

In Canada, whenever you are flying a drone weighing between 250 grams and 25 kg you are required to have either a Basic or Advanced Drone Pilot Certificate. For those thinking of starting their own corporate drone program, the Advanced Drone Pilot Certificate is likely what you will want for a few reasons. First, if your employees are flying around thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment above millions of dollars’ worth of assets, then you probably want a higher level of training. Second, the odds are very good that your insurance company will probably also share this line of thinking with you. Finally, if you are flying your drone near an airport, then your decision may already be made since you cannot fly a drone without an Advanced certificate within about 5.6 km of an airport or 1.8 km of a heliport.

Using our training costs as a sample, you can expect to pay $600 per employee to get their Advanced Drone Pilot Certificate. For renewals, we offer a course that is $50 and this must be done every 2 years after gaining your initial certification. Our Advanced training is approximately 20 hours of coursework, plus a few additional hours of studying for the exam, and then the time required to complete the in-person flight review, usually a couple hours including site travel.  Additionally, if your work involves operating around uncontrolled aerodromes, it might be prudent to consider getting your ROC-A radio certification, which typically costs around $50 for the online exam.

Insurance

There are a number of factors to consider when looking at insurance for your drone program. The three most relevant types of insurance are; Aviation Liability; Commercial General Liability and Errors and Omissions and they cover you for different aspects of your operation.

Insurance types:

  • Aviation Liability: used to protect against property and personal damages resulting from operating the drone. Hull insurance may be included as part of the Aviation policy and that protects the drone in the event of damage.
  • Commercial General Liability: used to protect against bodily or personal injuries that may have resulted from negligence. Additionally, this insurance can protect against damages from slander or false advertising.
  • Errors and Omissions: used to protect against damages resulting from data that was provided while using the drone. Essentially, if costly business decisions are made from inaccurate drone data, then this insurance can cover financial losses that resulted from those decisions.

Having a compliance program may get you a slight reduction on your policy, but more importantly, without it you may not be eligible for Errors and Omissions (E&O) and Commercial Liability Insurance. A compliance program can make you a more desirable candidate for E&O and Commercial Liability insurance.

Insurance costs depend on a number of factors, including which types of insurance you decide to use, annual revenue of your company, experience, safety and many others. Depending on what insurance you decide on, you could expect to pay between $1,000 to $6,000 annually to insure a single drone for your business. Keep in mind that our numbers may not match what you are able to find, so please do your own research!

Compliance

Compliance is all about how you are meeting or exceeding the regulatory requirements. A great way to demonstrate your adherence to the rules is to have a document that states how your company intends to comply with the regulations and to have a way to verify that you are meeting the standards you have set in your document. Finally, you should also have a way within your compliance system to follow-up on failures of the system to try to address the root cause of an issue.

 

If you ever end up having an incident or an accident, then you will be required to produce records surrounding the flight. By developing and implementing an internal company compliance system, you can help your company stay compliant with the regulations. A good compliance system has many components, and we can help you develop a Company Operations Manual, Standard Operating Procedures and a robust auditing system. Contact us for more information about these services.

 

On the topic of pricing, to develop internal documentation would likely require several months of time if it were tasked to an internal staff person. For a company with limited aviation experience to develop their own compliance documentation, I’d expect they’d spend $20,00 to $30,000 on wages on months of work to develop a product that would be potentially inferior to what a competent drone consulting company could produce.

Equipment

The cost to purchase your own drone gear could vary a great deal, depending on your requirements. Some factors to consider when you are deciding on a drone are:

 

  1. What equipment or sensors do you need on your drone?
  2. Is your drone capable of flying in the weather conditions where you will be operating it?
  3. Costs

 

Drones can be used for a wide range of tasks. For example, you can detect water damage using thermal sensors, map large areas with high precision using RGB and LiDAR and you can detect the health of farm crops using multi-spectral imaging. The cost of a camera is reflected in its capabilities and the price of the drone will vary largely based on what type of camera is (or can be) mounted to the drone. 

Remember to check what weather limitations apply to your drone before you make your purchase. If your drone is limited to operating at 0°C or above, but your intended drone site spends half the year below freezing, this would be an issue for a year round operation. Remember to check the temperature and moisture limitations that apply to your drone!

 

Finally, pricing for drones that would be useful in various contexts can vary in price from $3000 to well over $30,000. When pricing drones, it would be wise to have some portion of money set aside for fleet renewal. Perhaps something like 33% of the cost of the new equipment set aside per year so that you can have a renewal program to keep your equipment up to date and in good working order. This fund can also help with repairs or replacements for damaged or unusable equipment.

Pilots

To maintain an internal corporate drone program, you will also need to have drone pilots. Some companies will decide to combine pilot roles with other company duties and others will make those roles separate. A quick search on Workopolis shows a broad range of salaries for drone pilots in Canada. The salaries tend to vary depending on the industry, but out of about 20 advertised jobs, the salaries range from $40,000 to $110,000. Obviously this cost would need to be factored into the equation also.

Administration

With any good drone program, there is a fair bit of administrative work to keep things up and running. You will need to keep track of:

  • Pilot certificates
  • Pilot rest
  • Insurance
  • Permissions
  • Mission planning documentation
  • Maintenance
  • Incidents or accidents
  • Safety documentation

If your company has created its own drone program, then the odds are that they have enough flying to justify the expense. This amount of flying will generate a fair amount of paperwork. Managing and tracking this can justify a new administrative position. Based on our numbers, for every 10 drone pilots employed by a company, typically there is one administrative person on payroll. Keep in mind that your operation may vary from this average, but one way or the other you should be prepared to incur some administrative expenses from an internal drone program. Administrative positions in Canada listed on Workopolis tend to range between $40,000 and $75,000.

In the tables below, the admin and pilot costs are calculated on a per drone basis, with the assumption that managing 10 drones would be a full-time administrative position, and so a single drone in an organization would make up 10% of an employees workload and pay.

Initial Costs

Training

$600

Insurance

$1,000-6,000

Admin

$4,000-$7,500

Pilot

$4,000-$11,000

Compliance¹

$20,000

Equipment

$3,000-$30,000

Total

$32,600-$75,100

Recurring Annual Costs

Training

$50 per 2 years

Insurance

$1,000-$6,000

Admin

$4,000-$7,500

Pilot

$4,000-$11,000

Compliance²

$1,000

Equipment

$1,000-$10,000

Total

$11,050-$35,550

 

1) Initial compliance documents would be approximately $20,000 to $30,000 regardless of how many drones you have in your fleet and would not increase significantly with additional drones. All other categories would increase within the range of prices for that category on a per drone basis.

2) Recurring annual compliance costs estimated per drone.

Initial vs Recurring Costs

To build an in-house drone program, we estimate that your initial costs will be between $32,600 to $75,100 for your first drone. Each additional drone will have an initial cost of $12,600 to $55,100. The recurring  costs per drone would be between $11,025 and $35,525. When you break the prices down in this way, it becomes pretty apparent that for an internal drone program to be financially viable really comes down to how often you will fly your drone and how much the same data would cost if it was gathered from a third party service provider.

Drone Service Providers

As an alternative to using your own equipment and employees, you could  hire a drone operator that can do the jobs on your worksite for you. These services will vary in cost based on the capabilities and equipment required for the particular job. Prices could range from a few hundred dollars to thousands. For high end gear that can provide very detailed mapping data, for example, you may pay $2500 or more for a full day of mapping work.

 

Keep in mind that price is not the only factor. Using a third party service provider may be less expensive in some instances, but you also need to have confidence that they understand your job well enough to deliver the data that you need. Availability of qualified pilots may also be an issue in some areas as this technology continues to be incorporated into various Canadian applications.

 

If you’re looking for someone to complete a drone job for you, remember that Coastal Drone Co. also operates the Remote Pilot Network. We can connect you with pilots in your area to get your drone flights accomplished.

Conclusion and Solutions

When deciding if an internal drone program is right for your organization, be sure to consider all of the factors that we discussed above. Up until this point, how was this data collected? What were your data collection costs prior to using drones? If the ability to gather this data is new, then what value does it create and what is that worth for your organization? If you aren’t sure if an internal drone program is right for you, then maybe dip your toe in with a third party service provider. This is a less expensive way to see some data, and decide if it creates value for your organization.

Although there are a lot of variables and a wide range of prices that apply to those variables, hopefully this article has shed some light on the sorts of costs you could incur by creating a company drone program. Coastal Drone Co. offers training, compliance solutions and remote pilot services and we’d love to help you if you intend to incorporate drones into your business. Contact us if you would like any help with the services that we offer and we’d be happy to help.

Managing a Drone Program Can Be Simpler - Ask Us How

 

Reduce your costs with Coastal Drone as we help you develop a comprehensive drone compliance program. We have the expertise and aviation experience to be able to help you build manuals, procedures and policies that will make sense for your business. Best of all, we’re confident that we can build a compliance package that will work well for your operation for less than it would cost for you to do it internally. 

We’d love to hear from you, drop us a message with your thoughts or ideas and we’ll be in touch as quickly as possible! 

 

     

    Drone License Ontario

    Drone License Ontario

    BLOG – Drone License ONTARIO

    Drone License Ontario

    Flying a drone sounds fun, but you will need a valid drone pilot certificate, among other things. Read our guide for all the information on the exam and the steps involved.

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    When you see drones flying at outdoor concerts, you may immediately think about who might be controlling the remotely piloted aircraft system.

    While flying drones may seem easy, the reality is very different. To legally fly a drone that weighs more than 250g in Ontario, just like the rest of Canada, you will need a drone pilot certificate. Otherwise, the Canadian aviation regulation prevents drone operations in any airspace.

    Moreover, successfully passing drone pilot certification process, through a “flight school” is essential for basic operations and for being regarded as a certified drone pilot. To help you, we have highlighted all our available courses that can help you fly a Canadian drone.

    Overview

    According to Transport Canada rules, people can fly drones in controlled airspace provided that they satisfy the air law and fulfill the necessary criteria. This is a way to ensure that people have sufficient knowledge about operating drones and can be held responsible by the authorities.

    It is easy to feel overwhelmed, and that’s why we at Coastal Drone Co. have several courses to help you ace the Transport Canada exam. Thanks to our online courses, you can enroll today to learn about advanced operations and special flight operations for maneuvering drones over outdoor concerts or events.

    In other words, with our safety seminar, you can learn about drone rules during emergency operations to control the aircraft easily.

    Moreover, we will prepare you for drone operations in two categories: Basic and Advanced. Note that our expert team has designed online quizzes to ensure that people can prepare for the exam without losing motivation.

    Hence, you may be able to become a drone pilot or fly other remotely piloted aircraft after completing our online study course. Rest assured, all the instructions are detailed in a simple manner and our expert trainers instill confidence for a smooth experience.

    Drone Pilot Certificate

    To fly a drone in Ontario, there are two types of pilot certificate programs that you can choose from, depending on the risk level of the operation you choose.

    Taking the pilot certificate basic operations course may come with its fair share of restrictions but clearing the advanced exam allows you to fly in most areas. If you live near a city, we suggest opting for the latter; otherwise, you will struggle to get permission to fly the drone.

    Fortunately, we offer both courses for which you need to take an online exam. To know more about drone rules, check out the following training activities:

    1. Advanced Operations

    Our advanced pilot bundle includes an in-person flight review exam that separates us from any other Canadian drone institute. But that’s not all; our special preparation bundle ensures that you may be able to handle the final in-person interview to pass the exam.

    Once you clear the drone training program, exam, and flight review, you will be able to fly within 30 meters of people and closer than 5 km of any airport, with permission. Not to mention, it is possible with an Advanced Pilot Certificate, and a properly equipped drone with safety declaration to fly the drone directly above people, and these skills may come in handy during emergencies.

    Additionally, we provide the necessary expertise so that you can sit for the Advanced RPAS Exam conducted by Transport Canada. To know more about the course in detail, read the following points:

     

    drone gear assortment laid out

    A. Ground School

    The ground remains operational 24×7 and is most suitable for helping you become an RPAS pilot. Not to toot our horn, but Transport Canada recognizes our courses, and past students have expressed their satisfaction as it complies with all the requirements of a drone pilot.

    Moreover, the course includes topics on human factors, radio operations, meteorology, and the latest drone air law. Rest assured, we have everything covered.

    B. Online Exam Preparation

    With our extensive manual, you can pass the drone pilot certificate test with confidence. People get an idea of the type of questions they can expect, while our additional resources ensure that you learn about the nitty-gritty of drone flying.

    What’s more, you can practice for the exam as many times as you like, simulating all the conditions that you can expect from a Transport Canada test. Overall, we have 350 sample questions, making sure that your preparation is spot on.

    C. Proper Guidance

    To fly a drone safely, you need proper guidance; that’s why we explain the standard operating procedure to future drone pilots and how to work with checklists. For your benefit, we have curated a user-friendly guide so that you can quickly get the hang of it.

    D. In-Person Flight Review

    The final hurdle is passing the flight review test before becoming a drone pilot and acquiring a certificate. You have to conduct the test in person, and we will prepare you accordingly to study maps and be up-to-speed with the air law regulations.

    Plus, thanks to our team of flight reviewers across Canada, you can take the test without any hassle. We also guarantee 100% customer satisfaction and take you through all the steps to enroll for the exam.

    2. Basic Operations

    Our basic drone license bundle consists of everything needed to prepare for the basic pilot certificate exam, ensuring that we can satisfy consumer demands. You will need this license to fly drones weighing more than 250 grams, provided that you don’t venture too close to people or airports.

    To be more accurate, you must maintain a distance of 5km from airports while you can’t fly directly overhead people either, staying 30m away from people at all times. That said, our training program will make you feel safe when flying even a small drone.

    Transport Canada

    Before we proceed, you must know about the travel restrictions in Canada concerning airspace. As you are already aware, there are two licenses or certificates for drone pilots to be eligible for operating the flight.

    You can’t fly a drone within 5.6km of a military airbase or an airport with a basic license. You must also maintain a distance of at least 1.9km from a heliport.

    On the other hand, you can fly even in these areas with an advanced pilot certificate, as long as you obtain permission from NAV Canada. But it would help if you steered clear of the Terminal Control Area, a region of high traffic near large airports.

    As the number of aircraft is more in these areas, we teach pilots to leave the space clear for air traffic even while conducting advanced operations. This may help Air Traffic Control manage the landing and take-off of flights better while keeping an eye out for drone safety.

    Moving on, the Terminal Area usually encompasses a radius of six nautical miles surrounding the airport, but the distance may vary. Not to mention, some of them have weird shapes, which may make it challenging to operate a drone near these spaces.

    Ready to fly?

    We have covered all the topics related to flying drones and the Transport Canada regulations.

    What’s more, our in-depth guide to drone flight will allow you to steer clear of city structures like power lines or even other drones. Long story short, we offer the complete package to help with advanced and basic training, based on your needs.

    All you need to do is contact us and register for a suitable program. And we will help you dream big and become a drone pilot.

    Become a Drone Pilot

    If you’re ready to take the next step, jump over to our course selection page for more information about becoming a certified drone pilot.

    FAQs

    1. What Are The General Rules For Operating Drones In Canada?

    The guidelines for flying drones in the Canadian airspace will largely depend on the type of operation (basic or advanced). Other than that, pilots should ensure that the drone:

    • Can be seen at all times while in air
    • Flies below 122 metres in the air
    • Is away from any aircraft, helicopters, or other drones
    • Doesn’t fly above or near forest fires, concerts, or parades
    • Doesn’t fly near any emergency sites

    Pilots should also ensure that they respect the privacy of the people in and around the area where they plan to operate the drone. Similarly, it may be a good idea to survey the area beforehand to get an idea about any obstacles, like buildings and powerlines, which may get in the way of the flight.

    And don’t forget to carry your drone pilot certificate and registration proof of the drone, as you may have to produce them during sudden inspections.

    2. Can You Fly Your Drone Anywhere In The Country?

    Certain sites like the airspace surrounding airports and airfields, busy or populated areas, national parks, and border crossings may prohibit drone operations. Hence, you should always check the regulations and seek necessary permissions from Transport Canada to fly drones in these areas.

    Furthermore, there are specific guidelines for flying drones in different Canadian cities, the details of which are available on our website under the “flying your drone in Canadian cities” section.

    3. Do You Need A Certificate To Fly A Drone On Your Property?

    No matter where you want to fly the drone, a basic or advanced certificate is required to operate it in the permissible Canadian airspace if the drone weighs more than 250 grams.