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New Rules mean Back to School for Canadian Drone Pilots

New Rules mean Back to School for Canadian Drone Pilots
Helen Earley

Currently, Canadians do not require government permission to fly their drone, with the exception of those flying for work or research. However, beginning this summer, drone operators in Canada will have to register their drones and apply for a pilot’s certificate. Under the new rules, which come into force on June 1st, 2019, all those flying drones between 250 grams and 25 kg in Canadian airpsace will need to register and attain a license regardless of whether the drone is flown for fun, work or research.

According to Canadian Transport Minister, the Honourable Marc Garneau (a former NASA astronaut, and the first Canadian in space), changes are being made to enhance “aviation and public safety while encouraging innovation and economic growth in the drone sector.”

This is very serious business,” said Garneau, in press conference at the École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal in January, “ if you put an object in the air, in the airspace of this country, you are in fact piloting it, and if you do cause an accident…then you have to realize that there will be a price to pay for that.”

 

Drones Are a Risk to Canadian Aviation Safety

Although the announcement follows a drone sighting which wreaked havoc at London’s Gatwick aiport just before Christmas 2018, the framework for new Canadian legislation was spearheaded in October 2017, after a collision between a drone and a commercial aircraft approaching Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport.

This was only one of 95 incidents where drones posed a risk to safety in Canadian airspace in 2018, as reported through the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS). Over the past four years, about 500 incidents have been reported.

In a 2018 Transport Canada newsletter, Félix Meunier, director of the task force responsible for creating the new rules, highlighted the importance of promoting “fun” drone activity, while promoting safety: “At Transport Canada, we have a dual role to play—we support the safety of Canada’s transportation system, but we also promote aeronautics and innovation.”

 

Flight Schools to Help Pilots Prepare for Online Exams

A list of drone flight schools has been posted on the Government of Canada website. The schools will offer courses to help pilots prepare for online exams and flight reviews.

Under new rules, drone pilots must:

  • register and mark the drone with its registration number;
  • pass an online exam and get a pilot certificate for basic or advanced operations;
  • stay below an altitude of 122 m (400 feet) above ground level; and
  • stay away from air traffic.

There are categories of license: basic and advanced, based on distance from bystanders and airspace rules. There is an age requirement as well: 14 years old for the basic licence, 16 years old for advanced (unless supervised by someone who has the proper certificate).

Drone pilots who need to fly a drone outside the rules for basic or advanced operations will need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) before they fly.

 

The Rules Apply to Visitors Too

Pilots who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents will need to apply to Transport Canada for a Special Flight Operations Certificate to fly their drone in Canada. Special Flight Operations Certificate are issued on a case-by-case basis, and the pilot must follow the conditions established in the Special Flight Operations Certificate issued for their specific use case.

In Canada, endangering the safety of an aircraft is a serious offence. Anyone who violates the regulations could be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and/or prison.

 

 

[Image: Good Free Photos]

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