How to Get Your Advanced Drone Pilot Certificate
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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!