Simpler rules for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are coming to Canada, as announced by Transport Canada at the Unmanned Systems Canada conference in Montreal.
Transport Canada, a department of the country's government, says it is adding two exemptions to simplify small UAV operations and safely integrate UAVs into Canadian airspace.
Under the new exemptions, a Special Flight Operations Certificate will not be required for UAVs under 2 kg (about 4.4 lbs) and certain operations involving UAVs under 25 kg (about 55 lbs). The new approach will apply to commercial operations and contribute to a strong safety regime for those on the ground and in the skies, Transport Canada says.
Once the changes come into effect later this month, operators must check on Transport Canada’s website if the exemptions apply to them and respect specific safety conditions, including requirements to operate within visual line-of-sight, maximum altitudes, and away from built-up areas and aerodromes. In addition, Transport Canada is simplifying the application process and reducing the time it takes to issue Special Flight Operations Certificates for larger UAV operators.
“Transport Canada has requirements in place for aircraft of all sizes. For businesses, these changes will make it easier for their small UAVs to take flight sooner, while maintaining the safety of those on the ground and in the skies,” says Lisa Raitt, minister of transport.
In October, Minister Raitt launched the government of Canada’s national safety awareness campaign for UAVs, which aims to help Canadians better understand the risks and responsibilities of flying UAVs.
Transport Canada says the country has had safety regulations in place that govern the use of UAVs since 1996.
Operators must still apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate for UAVs weighing more than 25 kg. If a UAV is operated without a Special Flight Operations Certificate and should be, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a company. If an operator does not follow the requirements of the Special Flight Operations Certificate, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $3,000 for an individual and $15,000 for a business.
“This approach will dramatically improve the ability for Canadian businesses to safely make use of this extremely capable technology while substantially reducing the time it takes to get authorization for more complex operations,” says Stewart Baillie, chairman of Unmanned Systems Canada.
“Coupled with the safety awareness campaign announced two weeks ago, I believe that Canada now has one of the most effective and progressive UAV regulatory frameworks in the world.”