On Tuesday, April 23rd, Transport Canada held an information session at the Richmond campus of BCIT hosted by Justin Miller, a Technical Team Lead on the RPAS Task Force and Jason Rule with the RPAS Centre of Excellence.  Following a short presentation covering the highlights of regulations, they opened the floor up to questions from the 20 or so present.

Some key points came to light which are worth reiterating:

  • Both basic and advanced category pilots need to have site survey, normal and emergency procedures and to follow the outlined processes for every flight.
  • “Bystander” is defined as anyone not directly involved in the operation. If you are overflying a job site that is occupied by workers (example: workers on a construction site or cast and crew on a movie set) they should be briefed that the operation is taking place and made aware of risks, but they are not considered bystanders. Use common sense when applying this regulation.
  • The NRC Site Selection Tool will be updated and renamed the Where 2 Fly Portal. Along with maintaining the top-down view of airspace and aerodrome location, it will include guidance on the procedures to follow to access airspace. Interestingly, in addition to defining airspace boundaries and the 3NM buffer around airports and 1 NM around heliports, there are also restricted areas around runways that are depicted. The photo quality is not great, but have a look at the yellow/orange and red boundaries.
  • Tethered drones are not considered drones and therefore aren’t regulated under Part 9. Instead, they’re goverened by CAR Standard 621 Chapter 11 and considered obstacles to navigation.
  • Transport Canada doesn’t regulate privacy. Just because there is no mention of it in the CARs, doesn’t mean that you are exempt from following privacy or other laws. Be sure you’re familiar with the Privacy Act, the Personal Protection and Electronic Documents Act, Parks Canada regulations and regulations surrounding operations near wildlife. If you will be operating near animals a good heuristic is that if you’re close enough to make them move, you’re too close. Also, check out the Species at Risk Act, Marine Mammal Regulations and Migratory Bird Regulations.
  • When it comes to enforcement, Transport Canada has been working with the RCMP and some local police units to provide training on enforcing the Aeronautics Act which the CARs fall under. They’ll have a specific ticketing booklet with a decision tree to work through to ensure you’re operating legally. Be ready to produce your operation certificate, registration and other mandated documents if requested.
  • In addition to CARs infractions, RPAS pilots can also be fined under the Criminal Code if they are causing mischief, endangering aircraft or operating under the influence. A key thing to note is that you can be fined for each Some of the questionable videos I’ve seen would have racked up $20 000+ in infractions if TC really wanted to throw the book at someone.
  • TC is working to educate the public through an awareness campaign on social media and industry events. They also had sweet lanyards for anyone at the events.

Have any questions? Let me know! Send me an email at [email protected]