Understanding BVLOS Operations in Canada
Canada has a vast amount of land and a proportionately low population.
However, to mitigate any possible risk to people on the ground or other aircraft in the area, Transport Canada must be notified of your intentions to fly a drone past your visual line-of-sight.
Keeping Canadian airspace safe is crucial, but for companies that employ drone technology regularly, there is a growing need to expand the use of drones in their work.
Transport Canada makes certain concessions for the Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight (BVLOS) operation of drones, but only after specific criteria have been met.
The Benefits of Flying Beyond Visual-Line-of Sight
BVLOS operations are not the domain of the recreational pilot looking to test the limits of their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). In most instances, BVLOS flights are used in commercial applications to inventory infrastructure and create orthophoto maps of large areas.
Once authorized by Transport Canada, BVLOS operations allow users to collect more data in fewer trips across greater distances.
It’s also more cost-effective for companies to employ drones and BVLOS operations rather than relying on more expensive helicopters, airplanes, and satellites for data collection.
Other applications may include drone use in search and rescue operations and for deliveries of supplies (medical or otherwise).
The potential to reduce companies’ carbon footprint also makes BVLOS operations appealing.
What Are Autonomous Drone Operations?
These devices are ideally suited for scouting emergency response situations around remote power plants, power lines, railways, and more.
In January of 2023, Transport Canada approved specific equipment for use beyond the visual line-of-sight.
Requirements for Flying Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight in Canada
Every country has their own rules governing restricted airspace.
For operators to conduct BVLOS flight operations in atypical/uncontrolled or Class G airspace (and other isolated areas), pilots will require a Special Flight Operations Certificate for a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (SFOC-RPAS).
Interested parties will need to review the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Operational Risk Assessment. In order to apply, they will have to complete an Operational Risk Assessment (ORA) and be able to confirm that the intended areas of operation meet the criteria (flying outside any noted control zones). The application form and ORA are emailed to Transport Canada.
Applicants will be expected to respond to any further requests from Transport Canada before receiving a special flight operations certificate.
For more information, visit the Government of Canada website.
The Future of Advancing BVLOS Operations
Many companies want to unlock the wide-scale adoption of disruptive drone technologies in the BVLOS drone ecosystem.
Maintaining airspace integrity is essential. It will be interesting to see what lies ahead for commercial operators looking to action BVLOS operations in the future.
If your company is involved in drone work on any scale, Coastal Drone in Langley, B.C., is available for training and can help answer any questions.