Update on the new exemptions for UAV operations


As we know it, the two exemptions to articles 602.41 and 603.66, which allowed the use of a UAV without having to obtain an SFOC, expired on December 21st. Although the idea not to have to await the authorization of Transport Canada to carry out an operation is attractive, the majority of operators could not benefit from it since these exemptions were very restrictive.

Much will be delighted to learn that new exemptions come into effect today and that these ones are more precise and permissive that the preceding ones. However, the weight categories have changed. The category “less than 2 kg” was replaced by “1 kg and less” and the category “2 kg to 25 kg” was replaced by “more than 1 kg to 25 kg inclusively”. Here some extracts of the requirements to be able to operate under these exemptions:

For the UAV whose maximum mass on takeoff does not exceed 1 kg:

A person wishing to operate a UAV must be at least 18 years old, or at least 16 years old and undertake a research under the supervision of an educational establishment.
A civil liability-insurance must be contracted for an amount of cover of at least 100.000 $.
The operator must receive the authorization of the owner of the property from which the UAV will take off.
An examination of the places must be carried out before the operation in order to ensure a safe exploitation.
A copy of the following documents must be available to the person carrying out the operation and produced to an agent peace, a police officer or a Transport Canada inspector which make the request of it:
the present exemption;
a proof of liability-insurance;
the name, the address and the phone number of the owner of the UAV;
a copy of the restrictions related to the operation of a UAV system ;
the proof that the formation required was followed and finished as described in the advisory circular AC-600-004 of Transport Canada.
The pilot must maintain visual contact with the UAV at all time.
The pilots cannot use a first person view system (FPV).
The operation must only be carried out in the class G airspace at an altitude of 300 feet AGL or less.
The activities will have to take place at a distance of at least 5 Nm from the center of any aerodrome indexed in the CFS and at least 3 Nm from any heliport.
The weather conditions must remain above VFR minima in uncontrolled airspace being 2 statute miles of visibility and remain out of the clouds.
The operations cannot take place inside or above a built-up area,
The UAV must respect a lateral distance of at least 100 feet of a building, a structure, a vehicle, a ship, or a person which is not  part of the operation. Thus a UAV, like the eBee, weighing 1 kg or less can be operated up to a minimum of 100 feet laterally of a built-up area while respecting the other restrictions. The former exemption required a distance of 5 nautical miles.
The UAV should not fly to more than one quarter of a mile from the pilot.
The owner must provide necessary information to Transport Canada before the beginning of the operations.

For the UAV whose maximum mass on takeoff is more than 1 kg without exceeding 25 kg conditions 1 to 10 mentioned previously and:

It is forbidden to fly a UAV at a distance lower than 3 nautical miles of a built-up area. The previous exemption required 5 nautical miles.
The UAV must respect a lateral distance of at least 500 feet of a building, a structure, a vehicle, a ship, or a person which is not  part of the operation.
The UAV should not fly to more than a half nautical mile from the pilot.
The owner must provide necessary information to Transports Canada before the beginning of the operations.
Normal and emergency operations procedures must be established and respected, including those from the manufacturer of the aircraft.
Checklists and a fire extinguisher must be immediately available to the pilot during the operation.
The pilot must be sure that the UAV system isserviceable to carry out the operation.
The events mentioned in the exemption must be reported to Transport Canada.

It is only a summary of the restrictions of the new exemptions. Any person wishing to operate under these last will have to attentively read them in order to ensure the respect all the restrictions.

We recommend the reading of the advisory circular AC-600-004 which specifies the use of UAV aimed by the exemptions as well as training requirements.

The reduced distance to the built-up areas in these two exemptions will largely facilitate the use of UAVs without having to undergo the delays, sometimes going up to more than two months, for obtaining an SFOC. However, the operations inside the built-up areas or in airspace which is not class G will require an SFOC.

If enough users can operae under these new exemptions, the times for obtaining an SFOC should be reduced because of the reduction in the number of requests.

It is important to understand that a formal training on the structure of the airspace, the meteorological observations services and NOTAMs, the interpretation of the aeronautical publications as well as the applicable contents of the CAR for a safe operation is mandatory. The pilots must also have received a hands-on training on the type of UAV used.

These new exemptions will remain into force until December 31st, 2019 or until a permanent regulation comes to cancel them.