Last Updated: Friday, January 18th at 13:00 PST
Transport Canada has Released New Canadian Drone Regulations
Minister Garneau was in Montreal on January 9th to discuss the implementation of regulation for small (250g-25kgs) drones operated within visual line of sight. These rules were highly anticipated and industry experts agree they could impact the industry in a profound way.
These amendments introduce a new Part IX to the CARs (Canadian Aviation Regulations) that establish rules for all RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) weighing between 250 grams (g) and 25 kilograms (kg), as well as a general provision that prohibits RPA of any weight to be flown in a negligent or reckless manner. The weight threshold refers to the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft; it does not include the weight of the system used to control the aircraft. These amendments establish risk-based rules that mitigate the safety risks of RPAS through requirements for the pilot, the product (i.e. the RPAS) and the procedures to follow. The rules are divided into two areas: “basic operations” and “advanced operations.” The rules governing basic operations apply to the operation of RPAS outside of controlled airspace and more than 30 m away from people. The rules governing advanced operations apply to operations in controlled airspace, near people (between 30 m and 5 m of people), flying over people (less than 5 m from people), and within 3 nautical miles (NM) from the centre of an airport or within one NM from the centre of a heliport.
The new rules address three main areas:
- The Pilot
- Now requires individual certification (not covered under company-wide authorization)
- Must demonstrate knowledge by passing an online test for the appropriate category of operations.
- Advanced category applicants must pass an in-person flight review skill assessment
- The Product
- Must be declared by the manufacturer to meet certain standards if used in controlled airspace or within 3NM of airports/registered aerodromes and 1NM of heliports
- Must be operated according to the manufacturer’s guidance (including temperature and maintenance requirements)
- The Procedures
- Operators in both Basic and Advanced category must have
- Site Survey procedures
- Standard Operating Procedures for normal and emergency operations
- a method of tracking flight hours and maintenance
You can read the regulations for yourself here or download the RPAS excerpt here.
More to come! We’re researching and aggregating the key points as quickly as we can.
When it comes to making money with your drone, it all comes down to the payload. Really, the drone is just a tool for putting the camera or another sensor into an area that was too expensive or prohibitive to do otherwise. This is where the drone industry gets exciting. What applications can you dream up using these cool technologies?
Cameras are the most popular type of payload and are typically at least one of the sensors onboard. They can be as small as a keychain like on FPV racing drones or large, cinema-quality cameras with complex gimbal set-ups weighing tens of pounds. Some aircraft can even handle two cameras and have one for pilot orientation and the other geared for a specific purpose such as low light operations, 360 degrees or with zoom capabilities.
This highly versatile piece of tech can be used in agriculture, surveillance, accident scene assessment, wildlife tracking, search and rescue, infrastructure assessments for heat loss or for machinery diagnostics for heat build up.
Synthetic Aperture Radar
The details of how this impressive technology works are a bit beyond this post but the ultimate result is that this sensor can “see” through cloud cover, foliage, even structures. Since it uses a lot of power, it’s currently on large aircraft and satellites and primarily used to do assessments and monitoring of ice caps, earthquakes, resource monitoring, intelligence acquisition etc.
Multi and Hyper Spectral
Multispectral imaging such as NDVI or Normalized Difference Vegetation Indexing is used in precision agriculture. These sensors read bands of frequencies reflected off the surface below and crunch that data through software programs. This data provides insights into crop health, land management and hundreds of applications outside of agriculture like ecology, oil and gas, oceanography and atmospheric studies.
Chemical/Biological “Sniffer” Sensors
Using spectrometers, drones can detect airborne biological information for atmospheric analysis, helping meteorologists make better forecasts. Through the aid of algorithms, these sensors can also detect abnormalities in the cases of chemical attacks or gas leaks.
Covering everything from spraying pesticides to dropping off your Amazon order, releasable payloads are a huge opportunity. Think Hunger Games style parachuting supplies or aid to people in need. However, regulatory bodies are understandably restrictive when it comes to dropping things from aircraft. Once safe and reliable systems enable beyond visual line of sight flying and clean releases, we can expect to see this side of the industry grow beyond the current applications into areas like aerial pharmacies.
Providing asset and inventory tracking, airborne RFID scanners allow drones to scan areas in a repeatable, cost-effective manner. Anything you’ve attached your tags to can be traced by simply flying overhead.
Similar to RFID scanners, drones can pick up on and follow tagged equipment, people or assets. New technology even allows tracking via camera image, rather than needing to provide a pre-established tag. Although there are limitations, this is a promising avenue for the future.
Although there are some extra requirements before you’re allowed to sling a laser around the skies, laser payloads like LiDAR enable surface mapping through foliage, clouds and ground cover
What did we forget? What payload technology gets you most excited about the future of drones?
There’s a Canadian Aviation Regulation that says all UAV flights need to have an SFOC or Special Flight Operations Certificate.
602.41 No person shall operate an unmanned air vehicle in flight except in accordance with a special flight operations certificate or an air operator certificate.
To allow some low-risk fights to happen without needing to apply for and receive an SFOC, Transport Canada created two sets of exemption requirements – one for aircraft under 1kg and one for aircraft 1kg-25kg. Each list contains a set of requirements that, if all can be abided by, allow the flight to take place without needing prior approval from TC.
To fly under the exemptions, it’s first important to read the actual exemption documents rather than just the accompanying infographics.
Click here for Transport Canada’s Infographic
While all the exemptions are important, the few that typically trip people up are
– Aerodrome distances
Once you’re sure you’re good to go under the exemptions, let TC know that you’re going to fly using the notification form. You don’t need to hear back from them before you go but they are using this information to get some stats on who is flying, how often and where. As well as probably checking to make sure people aren’t missing key pieces of the requirements.
So to recap:
1. Figure out the weight of your aircraft
2. Read the exemption requirements appropriate for the weight
3. Take any necessary steps to abide by the exemptions (training, etc)
4. Complete the notification form
5. Go flying!
If you find you’re unable to fly under an exemption, stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on the SFOC process and or check out the one about the future of drone regs in Canada.