Canada drone regulations change in 2016


TC now consults on proposed changes to UAV safety regulations.

In 2016, Transport Canada intends to introduce regulatory requirements for UAVs 25kgs or less that are operated within visual line-of-sight. The proposed regulatory amendments to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) are intended to ensure the safe and reliable operation of UAVs in Canadian airspace. Transport Canada also intends to preserve the SFOC process to focus on higher risk operations that are not covered by the proposed regulations, including UAVs larger than 25kgs and those operated beyond visual line-of-sight

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  • One glimmer of hope (for now) is the stated possibility of relaxing the existing 2 kg threshold for 'very small UAVs)' (though the continued existence of the category itself is apparently now up in the air, pardon the pun).

    They appear willing to consider instead a product of mass and maximum speed (along with some other characteristics related to airframes). They ask for suggestions as to how they could reliably apply such a standard.

    The 2 kg threshold is of course painfully arbitrary. That a  2.5 kg set-up is considered as dangerous as a 25 kg one is perhaps the most glaring flaw in the whole system right now. There aren't many practical payload/flight time combinations possible below that limit, but a great many within just 2 or 3 more kg. In fact, would it be safe to say a majority of small commercial UAV applications would fall below a 5 kg threshold? Why do they not seem not to care about this? 

    The possibility of a slow-flying 3 or 4 kg machine being considered a 'very small UAV' appears real for the moment, and enticing because it seems they plan to exempt this category from any formal airworthiness restrictions (build your own) as well as dropping even the insurance requirement (build your own). Furthermore, according to the table near the end, this category would no longer be bound by the crippling 9 km restriction (though still barred from proximity to aerodromes or flying over people).

    This could be a case of very small commercial users piggybacking on the whole huge mass of recreational users they now want to draw into the regulations (hence the dropping of the insurance requirement, which just could not be enforced on thousands of weekend Phantom flyers).  

    I'm wondering how one would go about persuading them that lower maximum speeds for heavier 'very small' UAVs is realistically enforceable. 

    Rob, I'm not sure I'm reading the part about the size of 'small complex' operators the same way you are. I took it to mean that if your operation exceeds a certain size, they're more worried about monitoring compliance with the category requirements, and will therefore require you to obtain 'operator' status. But operator status will not be required for smaller outfits under this category (smaller being defined as 3 or fewer employees, basically).

    You will need to obtain a 'pilot permit' (new), but, on the other hand, you would not need SFOCs any more (within 9 km).

    Lastly, for now - the airworthiness requirement doesn't seem strictly defined yet. The manufacturer would have to declare that the airframe meets an official design standard - that's all that's given so far.

    But if the manufacturer is you (don't scoff too hard, because they acknowledge near the beginning that the range of manufacturers is skyrocketing and that many UAVs are now assembled kits or modifications), then will it be sufficient to make such a declaration yourself? A kind of honour system. If not, what standard will be applied to make the declarations of commercial vendors automatically more trustworthy?


  • Read carefully Justin.  Below that, they then go on to state very clearly that they intend to regulate model aircraft used for recreational purposes.

    They basically propose two scenarios.  One, where recreational use at a MAAC field is given a free pass.  Or, where all recreational use is given a free pass, except any drone carrying a camera !  So Solo for recreational use, would need to obey commercial regulations.

    This document is must like the last regulation change in November.  It claims to make things less restrictive and easier, but actually makes things more difficult and complicated.

    For example, it suggests that any UAV heavier than 2 kg, will require a manufacturers declaration of airworthiness, design standards, etc.  Basically, only aircraft from the big guys will be usable.  Then, also, basically goes on to say that any >2kg UAV, used less than 9km from any structure, can only be operated by a large UAV services company.  No more small companies.

  • I like that they state up front at the bottom of page 1 / top of page2 that the UAVs in this case are not flown for recreational purposes, or are recreational but over 35 Kg. 

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