In Canada...Simpler rules for small unmanned air vehicles

3689624595?profile=originalTransport Canada makes it easier to fly small UAVs for work and pleasure

November 5, 2014, 2014 – Montréal, Quebec – Transport Canada

Transport Canada today announced, at the Unmanned Systems Canada conference in Montréal, two exemptions that simplify small unmanned air vehicle (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 kilograms and certain operations involving UAVs under 25 kilograms. The new approach will apply to commercial operations and contribute to a strong safety regime for those on the ground and in the skies.

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.

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. For more information, please visit

Quick Facts

  • Transport Canada regulates the use of all aircraft, manned and unmanned, to keep the public and our airspace safe.

  • Canada 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 their Special Flight Operations Certificate, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $3,000 for an individual and $15,000 for a business.


“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”
The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport

“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. 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.”
Stewart Baillie
Chairman, Unmanned Systems Canada


Ashley Kelahear
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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  • Details of the new Transport Canada UAV rules have been released.

    I wonder what the training requirements for 2-25 kg UAV exemption will entail? (see FAQ #2)

  • Success!

    I got my mapping heli to 2kg (Well, I have to hunt down another ~50g).  Just test flew it, and I got the amperage down to 12A in a hover.  Well, I got down to 11A, but 12A seemed to be the sweet spot.  That's on 4S, so ~180W for 2kg.  Not bad at all.  So, even though I have half the battery load, I can still fly for 20-25 minutes.  And this is while carrying the S100, which is a slightly heavy mapping camera.  

    Anyway, going to be ready for business!

  • My friends says his Phantoms does not take off no more in his yard after a updated because he live in a airport 

    zone had to drive to the park to play. I think that is one good way to deal with this the business auto regulated them self and educate people the best they can.

    Now if they could have them not fly when big crowd of people are around :-)

  • I'm sure it will have its pros and cons, but it definitely needed change.  What I really want to see is a crackdown by police forces on people doing what I think we all consider dangerous, commercial or not, it shouldn't matter.  I live in a small town and even I have witnessed small UAV"s (yes Phantoms) flying over crowds at sporting events and parades.  The (new) operators don't seem to think its dangerous and local police don't seem to bother with them.  One guy even went up 800ft with his Phantom to take pictures over town and "Town" is only 3 miles from the airport.  I think this is the madness that needs to be dealt with, by local police. Transport Canada can't be everywhere.  And I have nothing against Phantoms, just irresponsible owners.

  • Moderator

    Just a thought!!

    Is this really a master stroke by TC ? 

    you know, let everyone fly <2kg out in the wilderness where they cannot damage anything other than trees! and that will then give the operators good experience and allow them to collect valuable flight time and knowledge so that they can then be better prepared for operations closer to civilization with a well prepared SFOC and insurance etc. 

    at the same time it reduces the pressure on TC approvers so maybe the SFOC process will be quicker!. 

  • I did a few hundred 360 aerial with 2kg for real estate etc. and made good money this season.

    Example here

    I do hope kids with there Phantom get into the business they may like it and develop a passion

    and go bigger and better. Maybe even build the next generation of robotics.


  • Dean, I feel your pain.  I also went through the motions of submitting an SFOC, but quit before actually submitting.  I actually didn't get past the insurance stage. Need insurance before submitting SFOC.  Need SFOC before the insurance is valid.  So purchase a policy, with guarantee if or when you can make use of it.  Crazy.  But, I decided to apply, and then was declined by two companies.  I just gave up.

    What region are you in?  Apparently timing depends region by region.

    Yes, it's true that 2kg is really restrictive.  3kg would be much easier.  However, this might actually help sort the wheat from the chaff.  There's only so much you can do with a Phantom.  The software is not made for mapping, it's made for taking dronies.  I guess the kids can do real estate photography, but they can have that, there's no money there.

    But mapping with a 2kg platform, or other difficult things like that, that's an engineering challenge.  I know I can lift a decent camera for 10-15 minutes under 2kg.

  • WhooHoo, well they definitely needed some changes but I didn't see this coming. In order to comply with regs I spent months putting together a SFOC, submitted it on 03 Sept and have not heard a word from TC.  Also just shelled out a bunch of money for UAV Ground School Training to meet their other new requirements "to demonstrate knowledge of..." Frustrating. Perhaps they are just not processing new ones until all this new stuff is sorted out.  In any case a professional quality UAV < 2kg is a tough one, wish it was 3kg :)  Then again, now everyone with a  phantom can run out and start operating commercially, scary.  I'm kinda with Gary here, probably a big "stick" coming for the over 2 kg class.

  • Moderator

    This is the carrot, I am sure the stick will be applied. Many many countries are in on this remember I keep banging on about the FAA missing a meeting in Paris in 2008. Well these are the fruits of that meeting beginning to happen.Watch this group if you are not in the USA In the USA watch ASTM F-38 

    Front | JARUS
  • @John: I'm am actually slightly concerned that the <2kg rules might be too loose.  We'll have kids running all willy-nilly with Phantoms.  There must still be some control on this operation, just without the need for an SFOC I hope.

    @Ian: Yeah, it doesn't look anything like when you saw it before.  It's stipped down to almost nothing.  It won't fly for 25 minutes anymore, more like 15 as it will only have a single battery.  Oh well.  

    I've also got a Tarot Quad that comes in at 1360g, so there is some room for camera and battery.  But not a lot.

    I'm also looking into a new helicopter design that weighs even less.  Only 1100g including a standard battery load, so lots of room for extra battery and camera.

    I'm looking around at various systems to see what can fit under the 2kg limit.  I notice the Skyranger is 2.4kg before payload?  I really want more info on various planes as well.  I see lots of foam frames that *can* be less than 2kg, but I don't know how that translates into actual real-world range and duration with a camera on board and small batteries.

    Also, you should know that I actually have begun work on a a LIDAR based object avoidance system. I figured you might be interested.  This is very early days yet, only about 22 hours of development work so far.  

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