Drone regulations – Update

Following the consultation on the Notice of Proposed Amendment for small Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), weighing 25 kg or less and operated within visual line-of-sight, Transport Canada has been finalizing the policy and regulatory framework.

The Department is currently developing proposed regulations that are expected to be made public in the Canada Gazette, Part I in spring 2017.   Inspectors will have the opportunity to provide comments as part of the consultation period, and as a Stakeholder in the regulation review process OntarioACHI will again be commenting on these new regulations.

The formal commenting period starts when the regulations are published in the Canada Gazette.  The link to the current consultations is here.

Adjustments are made as required based on the comments received and the regulations are then published in the Canada Gazette, Part II and considered final. A transition period is normally provided prior to the coming into force of a new regulation.

2016 exemption period extended

Current exemption period extended

Until the new regulations are accepted and in place At this time, the regulatory exemptions (exemption for under 2 kg / exemption for 2 kg to 25 kg) remain valid and will be updated prior to their current expiry date of December 16, 2016. For those that cannot meet the conditions of the exemptions, until such time as the final regulations are published, you can apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

Highlights of future proposals

Highlight of the new proposals

Here are some highlights of the updated proposed policy and regulatory framework based on feedback received from stakeholders on the Notice of Proposed Amendment, industry growth, risk analysis and, where possible, discussions with international partners.

  • Removing the regulatory distinction between recreational and non-recreational users.
    This means that all UAV flights will be subject to the new regulations and no exemptions will be allowed.
  • Exclusion to be made for modelling associations with robust safety guidelines.
    This means that unmanned aerial vehicles flown as part of a modelling club in an area that is restricted to the use of that club for the duration of the drones flights will not need any special licensing for the individual pilot or UAV.
  • micro-droneIntroducing an “unregulated” category with a threshold of 250 g or less.
    Transport Canada continues to seek a balanced and risk-based approach to both safely integrate UAVs into Canadian airspace and encourage innovation within this important new sub-sector of civil aviation.  As such they have recognised that “micro-drones” that have a limited speed and weight pose little to no threat to body or aircraft, and consequently will be unregulated with respect to Transport Canada regulations.  You will still be required to adhere to other Federal, Provincial or Municipal regulations.
  • Reducing the “very small” weight threshold to 1 kg based on a risk assessments, safety analysis and ongoing research.
    This means that UAVs in this future category will not need to have identification markings.
  • Marking and registration now for “small complex” only. Identification for other regulated categories.
    This means that if the proposals are accepted all UAVs not excluded in the clauses above (unregulated and very small categories) will have to be identified using a TC registered Identification mark, similar to manned aircraft.
  • UAV Design Standard now for “small complex” only (higher risk environments).
    Design standards for the drones may be mandated.  This means that existing drones may not qualify under future standards and become illegal to fly under any circumstances.
  • Pilot permit requirement for “small complex” UAVs.
    dji-phantom-4This is likely to mean that a cut-down version of a full private pilots license will be required to fly UAVs in this category.  Drones such as the DJI phantom are likely to fall into this category.
  • Knowledge requirements for “very small” and “small limited” UAVs commensurate to category.
    Pilots of these categories will have to be able to prove formal training in the safe operation of these vehicles.
  • Adjusting minimum age requirements to mirror manned aviation licensing requirements.
    The current Canadian Aviation Regulations require age and medical limits for pilots, these are likely to be incorporated into the new drone regulations.   The existing limits can be found here.
    This will mean that no-one under the age of 16 will be allowed to fly a regulated UAV without supervision.  Anyone under the age of 14 will not be able to fly a regulated UAV.
  • Regulating some tethered UAVs as obstacles and not regulating indoor operations.
    This will allow for flight training in indoor areas and outside as long as the UAV is tethered and below 150m above ground level.  Marking and lighting requirements for the UAV AND the tether will be required.  These requirements can be found here
  • Requiring liability insurance for all categories of UAVs
    No insurance – no flying regulated UAVs. No exceptions.

Transport Canada have asked us to reiterate that these are only proposed changes and are not yet currently in place. The formal consultation period along with the actual text of the proposed regulations will be communicated to OntarioACHI as a Stakeholder for consultation when ready and published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in spring 2017.

We will of course pass this information along to our members.

March 2017 - Interim order - recreational use

Transport Minister - New rules on DronesTransportation Minister Marc Garneau used his authority as Transport Minister to make an Interim Order, pursuant to subsection 6.41(1) of the Aeronautics Act , to severely restrict the recreational use of drones. The new restrictions which came into effect immediately upon announcement (13th March 2017) have a number of prohibitions.

The rules do not effect commercial users of drones (UAVs) who still need to fully comply with Special Flight Operations Certificate rulings.

If you fly your drone for fun and it weighs more than 250 g and up to 35 kg, you do not need special permission from Transport Canada to fly.

You are restricted from flying your drone:

  • higher than 90 m above the ground
  • at a lateral distance of less than 250 feet (75m) from buildings, structures, vehicles, vessels, animals and the public including spectators, bystanders or any person not associated with the operation of the aircraft
  • closer than nine km from the centre of an aerodrome (any airport, heliport, seaplane base or anywhere that aircraft take-off and land)
  • within controlled or restricted airspace
  • within nine km of a forest fire
  • where it could interfere with police or first responders
  • over or within the security perimeter of a police or first responder emergency operation site
  • at night or in clouds
  • if you can’t keep it in sight at all times
  • if you are not within 500 m of your drone

In addition, your name, address, and telephone number MUST be clearly marked on your drone.  

If you fly where you are not allowed or choose not to follow any of the rules above, you face fines of up to $3,000 if you are an individual, and if you are flying and the drone is in anyway associated with a corporate entity up to $15,000