Site Survey Primer

Site Survey Primer


Site Survey Primer

Site Surveys? No Problem.


We get a lot of questions from people wondering how to properly conduct a site survey. From physical obstacles, to airspace restrictions, to weather and site safety considerations, the process of a site survey can seem a little overwhelming!
Wonder no more!
We’ve made a video that will run you through the site survey requirements, resources to use and how to efficiently and safely prepare for flights. Check it out below!

For more information on site surveys, flight planning and more, check out our Basic and Advanced flight schools!

Meet the Team: Alec

Meet the Team: Alec


Meet the Team: Alec

At Coastal Drone Co, our team is what sets us apart from the rest. We are proud to have some of the most knowledgeable, passionate, and experienced people in the business with us. We are excited to introduce you to the people who work every day to help you become the best drone pilot you can be!

The next team member to be featured is our sales manager Alec!

Hey I’m Alec,

I’m a commercial helicopter pilot and sales manager with Coastal’s sister company SKY Helicopters. I got involved with Coastal in the summer of 2017. The market for training has always been interesting to me and led by Kate, Coastal Drone was moving in a direction that I saw to be disruptive. Being almost fully online, the scalability combined with the professionalism of the management and staff was a killer combination. As an aviation enthusiast I’m drawn to the potential of RPAS operations also as it relates to traditional manned aviation industry. I have a background working in startups and my passion for entrepreneurship is a great fit for Coastal and the management team. 

Most excited for what we don’t know. We are moving and changing and evolving so fast that next month we could be looking at a totally new vertical to pursue and we’re getting in on the ground floor in the industry. We’re on the training side an as the technology and aircraft evolve, the training will evolve with. I’m excited to be right at the forefront of that space. 

Check out the other members of our team!

Kate Klassen

How to Get Your Advanced Certification

How to Get Your Advanced Certification


How to Get Your Advanced Certification

If you are someone who enjoys flying drones, you’ve probably been looking forward to summer all year long! As the good weather approaches, flying conditions get more reliable and the opportunity to do cool things with your RPAS is always nearby. As of June 1, Transport Canada has released new regulations that affect all RPAS heavier than 25 grams. If you aren’t familiar with the rules, it can be difficult to understand exactly what kind of certification you need for the flights you want to do. Fortunately, we at Coastal Drone Co. have put together a handy guide to help you learn exactly what you need to get ready to fly!

RPAS certification has been split into two categories depending on the type of flying you plan to do. We will be covering advanced certification here. If you’re looking for information on the basic certification, it can be found here.

Advanced Certification

While the basic certification may work for some operations, the limits of the basic certification may be too restrictive for the type of flying you plan on doing. If that is the case, then you will need an advanced certification. The advanced certification requires an extra step to get certified, but it allows you to legally fly in a wide range of areas that would be prohibited under basic certification. You will need an advanced certification if you plan to fly:

  • Less than 30m (100 feet) away from any bystanders
  • In controlled airspace

If you plan flights that do any of these, you will need an advanced certification in order to remain legal. Follow the steps below to get your advanced certification.

  1. Register your RPAS:
    The first step you need to do before you fly this summer is register your drone with Transport Canada. Registering is a quick process that only costs $5 to complete. Once you have registered, you will be given an identification number that you need to put somewhere on your drone. This will allow your drone to be identified in the event of a flyaway or accident. You can register your drone here 
  2. Take RPAS Ground School Advanced
    While not mandated, Ground School comes highly recommended by both Transport Canada and Flight Reviewers (and us, of course). RPAS ground school advanced takes 20 hours to complete and covers all of the knowledge requirements specified for Advanced Category drone operators to fly safely and legally. It covers a wide variety of topics like meteorology, radio operations, and the regulations that you need to abide by. Ground school will teach you the skill you need to know in order to fly, but some of the questions in the exam can be unexpectedly difficult. Fortunately Coastal Drone Co has an exam prep course to hep prepare for some of the more difficult problems you might encounter. Exam prep is again not mandatory but has some similar questions to what you might encounter so that when you take the real exam, you won’t be blindsided. Our advanced ground school package can be found here 
  3. Take the Transport Canada Exam
    Once ground school and exam prep are done, your next step is to take the exam! The exam contains 50 multiple choice questions and it gives you 60 minutes to complete them. You need at least 80% in order to pass. Many of the people who take the Transport Canada exam fail their first time through, so don’t be discouraged. You are free to retake it after 24 hours and it only costs $10 to take, so failure isn’t the end of the world. You can take the exam here 
  4. Flight Review Prep 
    Your flight review (step 6) provider should offer a prep course or at least preparation materials. This course will give you an idea of what to expect during your flight review as well as giving you a handy list of documents and SOPs (Standard Operating procedures) that you will be asked to produce during the review. Once you complete it, you’ll both be and feel a lot more prepared to ace your flight review!  Flight review prep includes the cost of the flight review can be found here 
  5. Flight Review
    The final step in the process is your flight review. You will be required to fly your drone for an accredited flight reviewer who will assess your ability to operate safely as well as review your documentation to ensure you’re following the regulations. The flight reviewer will observe you performing various activities with your drone as well as review your safety procedures and SOPs to make sure they meet the requirements set by Transport Canada. If you pass successfully, your results will be uploaded within 24 hours after which you will be able to get your advanced certificate.
  6. Go out and Fly!
    Congratulations!! You did it! Once your exam is done, you will receive a certificate of completion that will allow you to fly your drone! It is important that you keep a copy if it ready to present any time you fly. Police officers may ask to see your license and can charge you a hefty fine if they find that you don’t have one. Make sure that you continue to follow the processes you demonstrated for the flight reviewer and all other applicable regulations. Have fun and fly safely!



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.


Sensors and Payloads: The Way Drones Make Money

Sensors and Payloads: The Way Drones Make Money

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.
Infrared Sensors
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.

RFID Scanners

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.

Laser (LiDAR)

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?

Transport Canada’s UAV Exemptions

Transport Canada’s UAV Exemptions

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

– Training
– Airspace
– 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.