Fast Facts about using a drone in Canada

Flying a drone is not something that should be entered into without some research and education. Recent “near miss” incidents reported over the last few months go to show that any vehicle, including flying ones, require regulation and training along with a big dose of common sense. Transport Canada regulates unmanned aircraft, or drones, on rules set out in the Canadian Aviation Regulations, but certain aspects of the Criminal Code also come into play with regards to trespassing and privacy.

Regulations are based on the weight of the drone. A Special Flight Operations Certificate may be required to operate a drone legally. Drones weighing less than 25 kg or less may be exempt from the requirement; however, there are still a myriad of precautions that are necessary covering everything from safe operation in daylight and good weather to minimum liability insurance coverage to operating only one drone at a time.

Rejean Picard is a farm production advisor with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD) and he flies a quad-copter drone.

“I advise getting training before operating a drone,” says Picard. “Knowing the rules of the sky and safe operation is critical. Knowing how many nautical miles you are from an airport, or how high you can fly and so on will be covered in pilot ground school.”

Additionally, some drone products come with training. Jeff Kostiuk is another MAFRD farm production advisor who operates a fixed wing drone.

“You need to know a lot about airports and planes, as well an aviation radio license is helpful in monitoring air traffic in your area,” he explains. “One of the biggest concerns or dangers in agriculture is aerial spray planes which fly a lot lower than commercial aircraft.” Kostiuk advises communicating with any aerial spray operations in the area when you plan to take your drone out.

Some of the restrictions to drone flight include not flying closer than 9 km to an airport or other aerial facility. Height of flight is restricted to 90 meters and you have to stay at least 150 meters away from people, buildings, and vehicles. Avoid populated areas, highways, bridges, and definitely stay away from any military installations or prisons.

The best resource to use to find out what regulations and requirements apply to you is Transport Canada, www.tc.gc.ca/safetyfirst .