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Canadian Drone Regulations to be updated in near future


On May 28th a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) to the Civil Aviation Regulations concerning the operation of Unmanned Aircraft under 25 kg within Visual Line of Sight was issued, meaning Canadian Drone Regulations are likely to be updated within the next 90 days

There is an understanding in many of the world’s aviation authorities that unmanned aircraft must be dealt with.  Canada has done a good job in this area and continues to do so.  As a result, Canadian drone regulations are likely to be updated soon.   For those interested in examining the NPA in detail, click here.

The Chair of Unmanned Systems Canada, Mr. Stewart Baillie, was in attendance when the Honorable Lisa Raitt issued the NPA.  His remarks follow:

Minister Raitt

First of all I wish to thank you, on behalf of Unmanned Systems Canada’s over 700 members, for the interest and attention that you have placed on our industrial sector. We can understand how many issues must vie for your attention and are we are very pleased that you continue to keep Unmanned Aircraft in your agenda. We are also pleased to acknowledge the very productive working relationship we have with the Transport Canada staff and the access we enjoyed to your office through your former staff member, Veronica Gerson – we look forward to re-establishing this relationship with others from your office.

Regarding the NPA you have announced today, we are pleased with the principles and high level material that we have seen. The material presented thus far seems to align well with that developed over the course of the last 5 years through the CARAC process and we believe this will provide Canada a progressive regulatory framework based on solid, risk-management and performance-based principles. We look forward to reviewing the details and providing substantial comments.

If we look back to last November, when you announced the Safety First Awareness campaign and the revised staff instruction, we see a lot of the same principles and approaches, which in theory are all very good. I would like to provide back to you, however, some of the feedback provided to us by our members after the changes were made in November so that we can avoid some of the same pitfalls as we move forward.

  1. The efforts being undertaken are on a schedule that is far more aggressive than typical for regulatory reform – We believe Transport Canada must apply more resources to this file over the short term to achieve success.
  2. Transport Canada must increase its efforts to respond in a timely and accurate fashion to UAS operators, the media and the public. – There are many opportunities to get the positive message out, we must work together to do so! Equally, there is nothing more frustrating than a lack of response to an application or question when clients are walking away!
  3. There is a general perception that the revised staff instruction of November 2014 was too complicated, leading to numerous misinterpretations and confusion in its implementation. – A clear implementation time-line and advisory material should be developed and associated with the NPA so that this does not occur in the future.
  4. The exemption criteria, especially for under 2 Kg UAS, should be reviewed – we believe that the intentions of a “Low Energy RPAS”, which were the basis of these exemptions, was lost. – It appears that the NPA has addressed this issue with the relaxation of distance from built up areas for the lowest risk class – will the corresponding exemption be revised to reflect this change in thinking?
  5. Transport Canada must take further steps to improve the consistency of application of regulations across all regions of Canada. While the regulation is being developed, our members are still applying for SFOCs and still need improvements in this process.
  6. The unrestrained recreational/hobbyist remains a challenge for all of us, and will continue to do so with new regulation. – Point of sale information needs to be developed and mandated to help resolve this issue

In closing, I wish to thank you, and your staff, for hosting this event and for your continued efforts on behalf of the Unmanned Aircraft sector and Canadians at large. This emerging industry provides well- paying jobs for a growing number of Canadians and is being harnessed to provide economic advantage in a tremendous number of other sectors. Our progressive and permissive regulatory framework, since the mid 90’s, has provided us with a competitive advantage over many other jurisdictions, most notably the United States. To maintain our global leadership in this sector we are prepared to work hard with you to maintain our advantages and grow this industry in a progressive yet safe manner. Thank you.

Stewart Baillie
Chairman, Unmanned Systems Canada 28 May 2015

We also reached out to Mr Baillie to ask him a couple of additional questions about changing Canadian drone regulations, here are his responses.

Q. While not part of this Canadian drone regulations NPA does the Minister see a possibility of removing, or reducing, the line of sight restrictions for some business use cases in the future?

Even now, beyond line of sight operations are possible, it is just incumbent on the operator to prove how the risk of such operation is being effectively managed.  That being said, the NPA itself doesn’t change the requirements for BVLOS, although the behind the scenes work to define the required performance of systems for BVLOS has been completed and TC will be turning its attention to how this might be promulgated once the work on the NPA is complete.  Please note that once the new regulations from the NPA are in place, SFOCs will be primarily for larger UAS and BVLOS operations.

Q. We applaud the requirements for stricter training for larger UAVs and business use cases and appreciate that this is not being put upon hobbyist. We note, however, that Transport Canada is proposing not to oversee this training and certification processes. Is that accurate?

Regarding the training, TC has already published one document on knowledge requirements and will probably update it.  While I don’t think they will be certifying training establishments, I do think they are going to coordinate a standardized test, of some sort.

In addition, we spoke with Transport Canada about the proposed changes to Canadian drone regulations, here is hat they told us:

Transport Canada is exploring changes to the regulations to help safely integrate UAVs into Canadian airspace. It is important to note that the Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) contains proposed options only. Transport Canada will consult with stakeholders over the coming weeks to ensure that the proposed regulations address safety and allow for industry growth.  The NPA indicates the general policy direction Transport Canada intends to follow. Specific amendments and details may change before the regulations are finalized, depending on stakeholder feedback and other data. Citizens who wish to provide feedback on the NPA can do so by email at carrac@tc.gc.ca

The current rules will remain in effect until the new regulations are approved by the Governor in Council and published in Canada Gazette, Part II.

The options being explored focus on UAVs weighing 25 kg or less operated within visual line of sight. Proposed changes include aircraft marking and registration requirements, new flight rules, as well as knowledge testing, minimum age limits, and permits for UAV operators. For UAVs operated beyond the line-of-sight, the SFOC process would be preserved as they are considered higher risk operations not covered by the proposed regulations. This approach would allow Transport Canada to focus on more complex UAV operations while making it easier for most UAV operators to fly safely and legally.

The NPA does not contain a provision for Transport Canada overseeing the training and certification processes.

What else should we ask the Minister or Mr Baillie about Canadian Drone Regulations?

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