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.

    Drone License Canada

    Drone License Canada

    BLOG – Drone License CAnada

    Drone License Canada

    Wondering how to get a valid drone pilot license? Then check out our certification courses that will help you get one.

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    If you love photography or travelling (or both), then chances are you would want to operate a drone sooner rather than later.

    The good news is that according to the Canadian aviation regulations of Transport Canada Civil Aviation (the national aviation authority), flying drones is a legal activity. However, flying drones that weigh between 250 grams and 25 kilograms requires a valid drone pilot certificate. Likewise, all such drones must be registered with Transport Canada and be marked with their respective registration numbers.

    Now all this may sound overwhelming for first-time flyers, which is where we come into the picture. We at Coastal Drone Co. offer Basic and Advanced drone pilot certification courses to prepare you to reach the sky.

    Here, we should mention that there are two types of drone exams- the small basic exam for people aged 14 years and above and the small advanced exam for people aged 16 years and above.

    Coastal Drone Co. Online Drone Courses

    1. Basic Pilot Certificate

    Our basic online bundle is suitable for anyone looking to obtain a license for basic operations of drone-flying in uncontrolled airspace in Canada. Since flying a drone requires pilots to pass an online exam, this online study course aims to prepare you for that while teaching everything about safe and legal ways to fly your drone.

    What’s Included In This Course?

    This online course is a two-hour-long module that gives you a detailed overview of the essential skill and abilities to become a drone pilot. Not only that, but it also includes high-definition videos and animations to replicate in-person training activities.

    Besides, our module is taught by one of the most experienced drone pilots in the country. Once the module is over, move on to the exam prep, which will give you an idea about the types of questions you should expect in the actual test.

    The best part is that you can take this test as many times as required to feel completely comfortable and confident. Lastly, we have also included an easy-to-understand SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) guide that will help create a checklist according to the specific requirements of your drone operation.

    Whether it’s for commercial or recreational purposes, our basic pilot certificate course is ideal for anyone who wants to get a basic license by passing the RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) exam.

    Keep in mind that the basic license will only allow drone pilots to fly the drone at least 5.6 kilometres away from the airport and 30 metres away from people (measured horizontally). Likewise, they can’t fly it over people. But if you don’t want to limit your drone operation with such regulations, then our advanced pilot certificate course is the way to go.

    2. Advanced Pilot Certificate

    Our advanced pilot certificate bundle course includes everything from an in-person flight review to an extensive preparation guide. It’s more suitable for potential drone pilots who plan on conducting advanced operations in drone flying. As such, you should take this course if you want to fly drones:

    • within 5 kilometres of airports
    • less than 30 metres away from people (measured horizontally)
    • inside controlled airspace
    • over people (when properly equipped with a parachute and safety declaration)

     

    drone gear assortment laid out

    What’s Included In This Course?

    The advanced pilot certificate course is a 20-hour long, on-demand online ground school module that will help you become a trained RPAS pilot. Moreover, all of our ground school courses are compliant with  TP15263, which is the formal document containing the Transport Canada knowledge requirements for becoming a drone pilot.

    This course will cover everything that will help you fly your drone safely in controlled airspace by following legal regulations. From meteorology, radio operations, NAV Canada air traffic to the RPAS laws and safety tips – our expert faculty will cover all the bases.

    So, even if you’re a novice, rest assured that successfully passing the Transport Canada exam will be possible if you apply yourself and study and use all the resources available in our course. At the same time, our high-end video content will minutely stimulate the experience of classroom teaching from the comfort of your home.

    Furthermore, our exam prep feature comes with over 350 sample questions to help you prepare for everything that the exam may throw at you.

    Here again, you can take the mock test multiple times. What’s more, we will help you understand why the right answer is right, which is fundamental for strengthening the basics of an advanced drone flight operation. And our SOP guide will simplify the checklist for your flight operation.

    You will also be glad to know that our certification courses are highly recommended and have been attended by persons from Transport Canada itself.

    3. In-Person Flight Review Prep Course

    Since obtaining an advanced pilot certificate requires you to pass a “flight review,” our team at Coastal Drone Co. maintains a network of flight reviewers and test sites located all across the country. This in-person test is essential to determine your knowledge about drone flight techniques, aviation laws, and related practical skills like map reading.

    You can easily pay the fee on our website to book the test according to your convenience. Plus, you will receive a complimentary online course to help you prepare to successfully pass the test.

    4. 24-Month RPAS Recency Training

    Even if you’re certified for basic or advanced drone operation, Transport Canada mandated undergoing “recency training” every 24 months to stay updated with the recent regulations and technologies. And our recency training is approved by Transport Canada, which is why we back it with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

    Contact Us

    Simply click on the “contact us” section located at the top right corner of the website and fill a short e-form with your name, email address, and a short message. One of our customer service representatives will get back to you.

    Alternatively, you can click on the chat box icon (at the bottom right corner of the screen) and type in your query. You can also call us on the given number at our office at Langley (BC).

    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.

    Drone Laws in Canada

    Drone Laws in Canada

    BLOG – Drone Laws in CAnada

    Drone Laws In Canada

     

    Wondering if you can use a drone in Canada? You will require more than just a Basic Drone Certificate, so check out this informative guide to know more.

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    Overview

    The job of drone pilots may sound exciting, but it requires a fair share of qualifications and experience. Considering how flying drones can be risky and illegal in some cities, not many know how to get started. Thus, in this blog post, you will find detailed information about drone laws in Canada.

    From the required certification to the rules to abide by- we’ll ensure that you fly your drone safely, confidently, and legally!

     

    TL;DR:

    Transport Canada Civil Aviation is the regulatory body for all modes of transportation in the country. You will be allowed to fly a drone in Canada as long as you do so according to the regulations laid by the agency. You will be required to pass the exam conducted by the body for flying drones legally.

    Updated Drone Laws In Canada

    Technically, drones (a.k.a. Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) are aircraft… just a lot smaller. While flying drones, you are a part of the commotion up there, among other drones and airplanes. Hence, maintaining safety and following the legal rules is crucial.

    Here’s a quick breakdown of the new Canada Drone Laws-

     

    Legal Requirements For Drone Pilots

    Going through the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), specifically, Part IX – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, is a must for aspiring drone pilots. It lists down all the rules that govern drone flying.

    Moreover, it is mandatory to carry a valid drone pilot certificate while operating drones. The certificate must be an electronic document or, in printed form, issued by Transport Canada. Drone pilots should also ensure that the drones are marked and registered.

    On the other hand, if you’re operating a drone, weighing less than 250 grams, you do not require any certification or registration. Further, if you are a member of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) and meet the conditions in Exemption NCR-011-2019, you may be exempted from the regulations set in Part IX.

    Finally, here are some more points to note before flying drones for the first time-

    • Read the Criminal Code, with the most crucial sections being Offences against Air or Maritime Safety, Breaking and Entering, and Mischief.
    • Check the trespass act of your city/province, and laws for privacy and voyeurism.
    • Respect others’ right to privacy when flying a drone.
    • Transport Canada Civil Aviation reserves the right to involve the local police and investigate the unsafe flying of drones in Canada.

     

    drone gear assortment laid out

    Drone Safety

    By operating a drone safely, you can ensure the safety of others around you. Let’s take a look at some safety measures required while flying drones in Canada.

    Are You Allowed To Fly A Drone In Canada?

    If your drone weighs anywhere between 250 grams and 25 kilograms, you must obtain a drone pilot license before flying a drone. However, you must be at least 14 years old to obtain a basic license, and 16 years old to upgrade it to an advanced level.

    Anyone younger than 14 years of age who wishes to indulge in recreational drone use must be supervised by a license-holder. Hence, such activities among younger teenagers are only allowed in camps, youth groups, and clubs.

     

    Prerequisites For Flying A Drone In Canada

    • Check the legal requirements before you fly your drone, and know the difference between Basic and Advanced operations.
    • Acquire the TP15263 knowledge requirements for a drone (remotely piloted aircraft system) pilot and obtain the drone pilot certificate.
    • Choose a suitable drone and get it registered.
    • Don’t forget to check the drone manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Ensure that you fly your drone in one of the approved operations only, and check for obstacles like buildings, pillars, etc.
    • For conducting advanced operations in controlled airspace, you must acquire RPAS Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA.

    Where Can You Fly A Drone?

    Here’s an exhaustive list of places where you can fly drones in a safe and responsible manner-

    • below the height of 400 ft./122 meters
    • away from advertised or emergency operations like concerts, forest fires, etc.
    • 5.6 km (3 nautical miles) away from airports and 1.9 km (1 nautical mile) away from heliports
    • at least 30 meters away from bystanders while conducting basic operations
    • away from other aircraft
    • outside controlled airspace (basic operations)

    And last but not least, fly your drone where it is comfortably visible to you at all times. However, you must also avoid the Terminal Control Area near large airports with heavy traffic if you’re carrying a basic certificate.

    Penalties

    The rules governed by Transport Canada and enforced by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) ensure strict implications for individuals and corporations that break drone laws in Canada. Some of the actions that can lead to serious penalties are as follows-

    • flying without a drone pilot certificate
    • posing a threat to any type of aircraft and people in the vicinity
    • flying and operating unregistered or unmarked drones

    Note that breaking more than one rule can result in multiple penalties and even jail time.

    Canada Drone Laws For Foreign Operators

    A foreign operator is one who is not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or a corporation working for provincial or federal bodies, but wants to fly a drone in Canada. Such individuals must be certified and registered to fly drones in their home country.

    Moreover, they must bear an approved Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for any drone flying. Consequently, they must include their country’s authorization to apply for the SFOC.

    Basic Drone Flying In Canada

    Canada Drone Laws do not specify a clear distinction between professional and recreational drone use. However, there are different rules for pilots conducting basic and advanced operations. Note that the aforementioned rules apply to all kinds of operations, and the following rules are differentiated based on the type of operation.

    Pilots Conducting Basic Operations

    If you fly a drone in uncontrolled airspace, horizontally 30 metres away from bystanders, you’re conducting basic operations. However, you must not fly it over any bystander. Not meeting any one of these conditions will place you in an advanced drone operation.

    Rules For Basic Operations

    • Get your drone registered by Transport Canada and mark it with the registration number.
    • Qualify the Small Basic Exam.
    • Acquire your Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations and registration proof.

    Commercial Drone Flying In Canada

    Since commercial drone use includes both basic and advanced operations, the rules are consistent for both commercial and recreational operations.

    Here are the general rules that apply to all drone pilots-

    • All drones between 250 g to 25 kg in weight must be registered by Transport Canada.
    • Pilots must bear a drone pilot certificate and mark their drones with the registration number.
    • The drone must be visible at all times and should never fly over 122 metres in the air.
    • The drone must be operated away from other aircraft.
    • Drone pilots must avoid flying near emergency sites and advertised events.
    • They must maintain a distance of at least 30 metres from bystanders.
    • They must respect everyone else’s right to privacy.

    Besides these rules, drone pilots must follow other conditions according to the type of operation.

    Pilots Conducting Advanced Operations

    Advanced drone operations include flying in controlled airspace not over bystanders while maintaining a horizontal distance of 30 metres. If bystanders are to be flown over, the drone must be equipped with a parachute and have a safety declaration allowing such operation.

    Rules For Advanced Drone Operations

    • Register your drone from Transport Canada and mark it with the registration number.
    • Pass the Small Advanced Exam.
    • Pass an in-person flight review with a flight reviewer.
    • Get permitted by NAV CANADA to fly in controlled Canadian airspace.
    • Carry your Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations and registration proof every time you operate drones.
    • Ensure that your drone flies within the operational limits only.
    • The drone must meet the safety declaration requirements for the respective operations.

    Important Terms

    Once you acquire a valid drone pilot certificate and want to pursue drone flying as a career, you must know certain jargon.

    1. Bystander

    Everyone excluding the pilot and the crew should be known as a bystander. In simpler terms, they are people who are not a direct part of the drone operation.

    2. Visual-line-of-sight (VLOS)

    As mentioned earlier, your drone should be visible to you at all times. This implies it should be within the visual line of sight without you requiring any visual aid like binoculars. Hence, even partial obstructions like trees and buildings should be avoided.

    3. Drone and Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)

    The words “drone” and “Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)” are often used interchangeably. However, there are multiple other terms for this technology such as UAV or UAS.

    Final Thoughts

    Performing drone operations is more than just capturing cool aerial shots! Hence, you must become a certified drone pilot and get your drone registered before flying it.

    And if you’re wondering where and how to get started, look no further. Check out Coastal Drone’s online training programs that will help you pass Transport Canada’s exam with flying colours.

    So, what are you waiting for? Enroll now and get ready to take off!

    The Mavic 3, First Impressions.

    The Mavic 3, First Impressions.

    Blog

    DJI Mavic 3 – First Impressions

    Four Years of Innovation? – By: Ian Wills

    2 Pro + 2 Zoom + Phantom 4 = Mavic 3? They did the math.

    It’s been nearly four years since we saw a new drone from DJI carrying the words “Mavic” and “Pro” on the same piece of plastic, with the last do-it-all-and-then-some “Pro” drone sporting a folding airframe launching in 2018.  Today, DJI pulled the curtain back on their latest offering, the Mavic 3.  Dropping the “Pro” moniker, the new Mavic comes initially bundled in three flavors:  Base, Fly More, and Cine.  

    In the meantime leading up to today’s launch, we’ve seen a shift in product offerings from DJI and a movement into a more Apple-esque release cycle with a major release followed by a slightly refreshed offering 12 months later (The Mavic Air 2 in 2020, the Air 2S in 2021; the Mini 1 in 2019, the Mini 2 with a software update in 2020).  

    So, with 4 drone releases in the past two years, why hasn’t the Mavic Pro or Phantom 4 Pro seen as frequent a release cycle as other offerings from DJI?  Pure speculation, but if something isn’t broken, why fix it?  At the time of its release, the Mavic 2 Pro offered the largest sensor in a folding drone, 10-bit color, high resolution, and pro features that few other competitors were able to bundle into an appetizing price point.  Likely the closest competitor, Autel Robotics, came close with 6K resolution but failed to integrate the larger 1” sensor of the DJI offering until it launched the Evo 2 Pro in 2020.

    Within DJI’s offering, trickle down capabilities started to present themselves in the Air 2 (loosely based on a Mavic 1 Pro airframe and sensor with updated software and ADS-B), and subsequently the Air 2S drones (a 1” sensor, 4K HDR at 60fps) which started to erode the consumer appeal of the still-more-expensive Mavic 2 Pro.  However, variable aperture, sideward obstacle avoidance and a Hasselblad-tuned color profile remained exclusive to the Pro series throughout.

    So, bringing us to today, and the spec-for-spec comparison of the next installment in the Pro series, the Mavic 3, let’s compare the base offering.

     

    Mavic 2 (Pro)

    Mavic 3

    Weight

    907g

    895g

    Temperature Limits

    -10 to +40C

    -10 to +40 C

    Max Duration

    31 Minutes (no wind at 15.5mph)

    46 Minutes (No Wind at 15.5mph)

    Camera

    1” CMOS, 20MP

    FOV 77* (28mm equivalent)

    Aperture f/2.8-f/11

    Focus 1m to infinity

    Wide Camera:

    4/3” CMOS, 20MP

    FOV 84* (24mm equivalent)

    Aperture f/2.8-f/11

    Focus 1m to infinity (Autofocus)

     

    Telephoto Camera:

    ½” CMOS, 12MP

    FOV 15* (160mm equivalent)

    Aperture f/4.4 fixed

    Focus 3m to infinity (fixed)

    ISO Range

    Video:

    100-6400

     

    Photo:

    100-3200 (auto)

    100-12800 (manual)

    Telephoto:

    Video – 100-3200

    Photo – 100-3200

     

    Wide-Angle

    Video – 100-6400

    Photo – 100-3200 (auto) 100-12800 (Manual)

    Shutter (Electronic)

    8-1/8000s

    Telephoto:

    1-1/8000s

     

    Wide-Angle:

    8-1/8000s

     

    Aircraft Battery

    3850 mAh LiPo

    5000 mAh LiPo 4S 15.4V

    Flight Control App

    DJI Go 4 

    DJI Fly

    Let’s get down to the meat and potatoes.  The Mavic 2 Pro sported a single 1” CMOS sensor camera that was roughly equivalent to a 28mm field of view on a full-frame camera, and shot stills at 20 megapixels, video at 4K / 30fps, and featured 10-bit Log profile footage at a maximum bitrate of 100mbps.  Not too shabby, for 2018.  

     With the Mavic 3, DJI has effectively melded the Mavic 2 Pro and the Mavic 2 Zoom into one drone, by combining two fixed focal lengths.  The main wide camera has been enlarged to a 4/3 sensor, roughly 1.7x larger than the outgoing 1” sensor, while maintaining 20MP digital resolution.  This means the pixel pitch has increased (the distance between each light sensitive pixel) which should mean reduced image noise at higher ISO speeds. 

    Originally rumored to have included a mechanical shutter on the wide camera, a feature previously exclusive to the Phantom 4 Pro series, it appears that the Mavic 3 will stick to an electronic shutter in both cameras.  Mapping operators will take note as the mechanical shutter would have allowed for reduced distortion when capturing nadir imagery for mapping and photogrammetry.  Despite the electronic shutter, it will be interesting to see if the Mavic 3 Pro takes the Phantom 4 Pro V2’s mapping crown with its increased flight time and sensor size, allowing for drone operators to capture larger areas between battery changes.

     Switching to video, the resolution on the Mavic 3 has been bumped to 5.1K at 50fps, with a 4K bump to 120fps.  Maximum video bitrate has been increased to 200mbps for H.264 and H.265 format.  The “Cine” version of the Mavic 3 adds Apple ProRes 422HQ as a native recording format and a 1TB onboard SSD to capture the much higher bitrate 10-bit footage.   Of note, the high resolution and high frame rate formats appear to be limited to the wide camera only, with the telephoto camera being limited to 4K or 1080P at 30 frames per second.

     APAS 5.0 touts omnidirectional (all directions) obstacle avoidance, and advanced return-to-home functionality.  In the past, Skydio has reigned king with dynamic obstacle avoidance in dense foliage, so increased sensor coverage is a welcome improvement but we will have to wait and see how it stacks up in the real world.

    What I’m most intrigued about is the 4G connectivity dongle, and what that could mean for BVLOS operations down the road.

     There’s lots more to cover in the coming days, including enhanced WiFi connectivity, a switch to the DJI Fly App, a beefier Ocusync 3+ transmission standard, and we’re excited to get our hands on one as soon as possible to share how it flies, and figure out any quirks that might come from a dual-lens setup.

    Where to Buy:

    Best Buy Canada

    If you’re looking to buy one, the Mavic 3 is now available for pre-order at Best Buy for $2669 CAD, with one battery, controller, charger, and a spare set of propellers, shipping November 30th.  Heads up, If you bundle our courses with purchase of a drone, you can save 40% at checkout.

    The Mavic 3 Fly More combo, which includes three batteries, a battery charging hub, a set of ND filters, two sets of propellers and a nice carrying bag is $3639 CAD at Best Buy.

    The Cine Premium combo, which includes everything in the Fly More combo, plus the onboard 1TB SSD and support for ProRes 422HQ, also includes the new RC Pro smart controller, and a second set of ND filters for $6049 CAD at Best Buy.

     DJI Online Store

    If you’re looking to buy one today, the Mavic 3 is now available on DJI.com for $2049 USD with one battery, controller, charger, and a spare set of propellers.

     The Mavic 3 Fly More combo, which includes three batteries, a battery charging hub, a set of ND filters, two sets of propellers and a nice carrying bag is $2799 USD.

     The Cine Premium combo, which includes everything in the Fly More combo, plus the onboard 1TB SSD and support for ProRes 422HQ, also includes the new RC Pro smart controller,and a second set of ND filters for $4649 USD.

    What’s not included in any of the combos is the 15.5mm (35mm equivalent) Wide-Angle lens adapter, available for purchase separately at a price of $149 USD.

    Canadian Drone Services – Options, Pros and Cons

    Canadian Drone Services – Options, Pros and Cons

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    Canadian Drone Services

    Options, Pros and Cons

    As drone services become more and more prevalent, how do you plan on leveraging this innovative new technology for your business?

    Canadian Drone Services

    Are you looking to add drone services to your offerings? Want to include aerial data in your products or services? There are a few ways to bring the value of drone services to your clients. Let’s explore the pros and cons of each!

     

    In-house Drone Pilots

    Piloting your company’s own drones sounds like a great (and fun!) opportunity at first blush. Like many new technology adoptions, there’s a bit more to it than just acquiring the new tech, though.

    In Canada, drone pilots will need a certification in most cases which may be a great benefit you can offer to your employees! Aside from the time and effort required in getting certified, expect to also need to spend on related gear (vests, cones, emergency equipment) in addition to the drone itself! Remember too – it’s one thing to know how to fly a drone and a whole other to know how to collect reliable, quality data! You’ll likely want training beyond the basics to scale your drone services.

    Pros

    • Pilot certification as a continued learning opportunity
    • Flexibility

    Cons

    • Investment in aircraft (and other gear)
    • Time and resource investment in training
    • Worker flying drones means other work not getting done

     

    Contracted Drone Pilots

    Hiring certified drone pilots is another way to add aerial drone services to your portfolio. The benefits here include not needing to invest time, effort or money in sourcing a drone, training or any of the related gear. You also won’t need to worry about getting employees trained and certified!
    Challenges arise though in first finding qualified drone pilots and then ensuring they’re up to your standards! Will the same pilot be available to fly your jobs regularly? Will they be able to provide repeatable results? Can they prioritize your work when you need them to? Do you have to pay out the nose to get the answers you want to those questions?

    Pros

    • No hardware purchases
    • No pilot certifications required

    Cons

    • Expensive
    • Quality assurance
    • Inconsistencies

     

    Remote Pilot Network (RPN) Pilots

    RPN pilots come vetted by industry experts to ensure their capabilities. Not only are they certified, but they’re supported by comprehensive end-to-end software that enables scalable, repeatable, and quality data to be captured when you need it, as often as you need it. There’s no need to purchase drones, training or other equipment to create a drone services program within your organization!
    While your employees might have liked to have company-sponsored training provided, they’ll certainly appreciate being able to focus on their regular job and initiatives, knowing they have access to the aerial drone data they need.

    Pros

    • No hardware purchases
    • No pilot certifications required
    • Repeatable and scalable
    • Vetted pilots

    Con

    • Employees not certified

     

    Join our nation-wide network of drone pilots and clients with the RPN – a collaboration between Coastal Drone Co and Spexi Geospatial. Click to read on to find out more information about the Remote Pilot Network and how you can begin leveraging the largest system of pilots to do work for your business.