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Canadian Rules to Follow While Operating a UAV / Drone

Aerial cinematography is the process of capturing footage from the air, using some form of aircraft. Filming from the air allows for some beautiful shots. This can be useful for real estate videos, capturing a full location like a golf course, cottage property or summer camp, vehicle tracking, and establishing shots. (For example, if you want an audience to know your scene takes place in downtown Toronto, you start with footage of the city - making sure to capture identifying buildings like the CN Tower.)


Check out some examples of the beautiful aerial cinematography 5Gear Studios has done:


Traditionally camera crews would use a helicopter for aerial cinematography, but drones have become a popular alternative for capturing aerial footage. Although they are remote-operated and much smaller, there are still legal requirements when flying a drone. When operating a drone in Canada, you must follow the rules outlined in the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems section of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). https://tc.canada.ca/en/corporate-services/acts-regulations/list-regulations/canadian-aviation-regulations-sor-96-433


If you’re planning to operate a drone in Canada, be sure to thoroughly read through your legal requirements, but here are some key rules to follow:


Drone Pilot Certificate

A drone pilot certificate is issued by Transport Canada and can be a printed or electronic document. The operator of the drone (the pilot) must carry their valid drone pilot certificate at all times while operating the drone. If the certificate is not issued by Transport Canada, it will not be accepted. There are two primary types of Drone/UAV operations in Canada: Basic and Advanced.


Basic operations

If you meet all 5 of these conditions, you're conducting basic operations:

  • You fly it in uncontrolled airspace

  • You fly it more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders

  • You never fly it over bystanders

  • You fly it more than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or a military aerodrome

  • You fly it more than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport

If you do not meet any 1 of these 5 conditions, you are conducting advanced operations.

For example, let’s say you fly your drone more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders but in controlled airspace. This operation is advanced because you’re flying in controlled airspace even if you’re more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders.

For basic operations, here are some of the rules you must follow:

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time

  • Mark your drone with its registration number

  • Pass the Small Basic Exam

  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations and proof of registration when you fly

Advanced operations

If you meet any 1 of these conditions, you are conducting advanced operations:

  • You want to fly in controlled airspace

  • You want to fly over bystanders

  • You want to fly within 30 metres (100 feet) of bystanders (measured horizontally)

  • You want to fly less than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or a military aerodrome

  • You want to fly less than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport

For advanced operations, here are some of the rules you must follow:

  • Register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time

  • Mark your drone with its registration number

  • Have a drone with the appropriate Safety declaration for the intended operation

  • Pass the Small Advanced Exam

  • Pass a flight review with a flight reviewer

  • Be able to show your Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations and proof of registration when you fly your drone

  • Seek permission from air traffic control (NAV CANADA or the Department of National Defence) to fly in controlled airspace (request an RPAS Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA)

  • Fly within the operational limits of your drone

You can only use drones that meet the safety requirements for the operation you want to conduct. See tips on choosing the right drone before you fly.

If you have a Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations, you do not need a Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations to conduct basic operations.


Two other types of operations are Micro Drones (under 250g) and Drones that weigh more than 25 kg.


Micro-drones (under 250 g)

Micro-drones are drones weighing less than 250 g. The weight of the remote control is not factored in to the weight calculation, but the weight of anything attached or carried, such as optional cameras or safety cages, will be considered part of the weight.

Pilots of micro drones don’t need to register their drone or get a drone pilot certificate to fly them. Pilots of micro drones are not bound by the same requirements as other drones. However, you must not operate your drone in a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger aviation safety or the safety of anyone.

While there are no prescriptive elements of the regulations, there is an expectation that the pilot of a micro drone to use good judgment, identify potential hazards, and take all necessary steps to avoid any risks associated with flying your drone.

As a good practice, you should always:

  • maintain the drone in direct line of sight

  • do not fly your drone above 400 feet in the air

  • keep a safe lateral distance between your drone and any bystanders

  • stay far away from aerodromes, airport, heliport and waterdrome

  • avoid flying near critical infrastructure (utilities, communication towers, bridges, etc.)

  • stay clear of aircrafts, at all time

  • do a pre-flight inspection of your drone

  • keep the drone close enough to maintain the connection with the remote controller

  • avoid special aviation or advertised events

Follow these guidelines to avoid flying in a negligent or reckless manner and being subject to fines. Enjoy a safe flight and minimize the risk of incidents. Remember: if you feel that your flight is risky, don’t do it.

Drones are considered aircraft under the Aeronautics Act and Canadian Aviation Regulations and are therefore prohibited to enter the following zones without the proper authorizations:

  • Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace

  • Over a forest fire area or any area located within five nautical miles of a forest fire area, or in any airspace for which a NOTAM for Forest Fire Aircraft Operating Restrictions has been emitted

  • Zones where a 5.1 of the Aeronautics Act restrict the use of airspace to all aircraft has been emitted

Drones that weigh more than 25 kg

If your drone weighs over 25 kg or you want to fly outside the rules, you will need to get special permission from Transport Canada before you fly.



Register Your Drone

In order to qualify to register your remotely piloted aircraft you must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, a corporation incorporated under territorial, provincial or federal laws of Canada, or a municipal, provincial or federal entity.


*drones less than 250 grams don’t need to be registered and don’t need a drone pilot certificate


14 Years or Older

In order to be the registered owner of a remotely piloted aircraft, you must be 14 years or older. You must also be at least 14 years old to get a basic license to fly a drone. You must be 16 to get an advanced license. Children under 14 must be supervised by a licensed individual to fly a drone.


VLOS (Visual Line-Of-Sight)

You must maintain a visual line of sight at all times while operating your drone. This means you can only fly your drone where you can always see it. This is to ensure the airspace around your aircraft is free from other objects or aircraft.


Survey The Area

Be sure to survey the area before you fly to take note of any obstacles like buildings, power lines, cell phone towers and wind turbines. Take into account the boundaries of the area, the proximity of airports, and any weather conditions.


Respect Other Laws

While operating your drone, make sure you are abiding by the other laws of the province/country you are in. This includes offences against air or maritime safety, breaking and entering, mischief, trespassing, and laws against voyeurism and privacy.


Drones are aircraft which means the operator is a pilot with legal responsibilities. There are serious penalties if the rules aren’t followed. If you have any hesitations you may be safer hiring a professional video production company for your aerial cinematography needs.


Need aerial shots for your project? Contact 5Gear Studios today to learn more about our aerial cinematography.


References:

https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety/learn-rules-you-fly-your-drone/flying-your-drone-safely-legally




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