Dronin’ on

*****Jump to update*****

As per the Transport Canada regulations in place, a Special Flight Operation Certificate (SFOC) is in MOST cases, required for commercial drone operations.  More on the “MOST” a bit later… 

Already from a great number of Colleagues, we are getting feedback that applying for the required SFOC is meeting some serious delays, in the neighbourhood of 5 – 7 months.

The result of such delays, complicating the planned operations of many a business wanting to add drone operations to their service package, is that some are taking the “roll the dice” approach of operating without the required clearance paperwork and certificates.

Although this approach is as enticing as magical mermaids are to sailors, the end results would inevitably be similar: An eventual major crash, resulting in probable financial casualty.  Bottom line is: The House always wins!

Don’t skip or try to bypass this step!

Applying for the SFOC is a lengthy process, requiring the completion of multi-page paperwork with supporting documentation.  Copies of this supporting documentation including, but not limited to: Proof of flight training, proof of insurance and proof of operations procedures MUST be provided with the application.

Flight training and operations procedures can be considered as part of a single item but what about insurance?

Good news: We have confirmed with HUB that as part of their insurance program, coverage for drone operation is in place for Members of the Home Inspection Insurance package.

Further details can be obtained from Kim Smith at HUB International: (905) 847-5500

One of the “catches”:

Some of us flyers have been involved in remote control style flying for years. This means the handling and operation of drone equipment comes a bit easier, making the learning curve a bit smoother.

Other Colleagues, having plans of adding drone operations to their services, are applying for SFOC just to hone their flying skills… Flying a drone may seem easy in one’s mind and dreams but the truth is: “It ain’t easy!”

But alas… As getting the magical SFOC is proving to be a lengthy process, how can one operate a drone for practice purposes, to be ready to provide this service to clients, without moving to the “dark side” and “rolling the dice”? There are a couple of solutions:

  • Flying Clubs:

Many Clubs recognized with the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) have UAV/Drone operation possibilities. Although restricted to the club areas, this allows one to practice and hone flights skills. This can help minimize “issues” occurring during business operations. There will be a cost attached to this approach to cover the club membership cost and the MAAC membership, required for belonging and operating in the club.

  • Flight Software:

For those who definitely feel uncomfortable “showing off” in front of others, simulation software is available to gain experience at the controls. This could also help in getting accustomed to the operation of the onboard camera (seeing that’s what we want the thing for in the first place) without having to be concerned about the entire operation of the unit at once. Simulator packages, such as Real Flight Drone simulator, will help in getting a good grasp of aerial photography whilst sitting in a comfortable chair. Such packages usually command a price of roughly $150.—and up and will include the required controller for simulated operations… For some, a justified expense rather than stressing and contorting in front of others…

So, more on “Most”:

Drone to NeverlandAs mentioned in the beginning, “MOST” drone operations require getting the magical SFOC.

However, drones having an operational weight of 250g or less are exempt from operational regulations. Not so quick though:

Although this may seem like the golden solution, one must realize that this is very light and Mother Nature and its associated elements may make short order of such units. All may appear well until reaching the eaves when suddenly, “golden bird” decides to pull a “Dorothy” and takes off for Neverland!

Worse, it may become a “flying Ginsu” resulting in damage or injury!

The OntarioACHI TND is currently looking into some of these “light units” in an effort to assess whether a positive outcome can be gained without having to complete never-ending paperwork to provide Professional service to clients.

UPDATE

We have just been advised of the results of the May Stakeholders session we attended.  The views from the Home Inspection profession were put forward quite succinctly by Len Inkster and Jim Bodnarchuk from the board.  It appears from the latest recommendations that most of our fears have been heard and acted upon.

You can read the latest recommendations that will be going into the regulations here, and for those who want a quick video synopsis of the changes you can see the video here

For those who would like an infographic of the interim order 9 from June 2018,  you can click on this image to download the hi-res picture.