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.