New Drone Service Tests Commercial Usage Laws in Canada

This just popped up on a Canadian Commercial Operator Facebook group and we're discussing the implications and legal possibilities.  Apparently the operator claims that this has been cleared with Transport Canada, but nobody is sure yet what the details of that are.

This does not appear to fit in with existing commercial regulations.  It seems unlikely that a commercial operator would be able to get a permit to fly in a crowded area like a ski hill.  I have taken a guess as to what is going on here:

The operator is not operating the drone.  They are renting drones to recreational users.  Not much different than selling drones to recreational users.  The user is the pilot in command, not a commercial operator.  The user captures images of himself.  Then the operator edits the footage.  It would bypass all of the commercial regulations.  Some disagree that this would be legally possible, but I don't see why it would not.

Currently, a person can rent a Uhaul truck, without being required to possess a commercial truck license.  And I think it would be over-reaching if the government tried to stop a person from paying somebody to edit footage for them, no matter how it was captured.

The key to the whole gambit, is the drone rental, and the Follow-Me device is pivotal for that to work in this case.  Some of the marketing material show a Phantom, but the video from Cape Productions clearly shows a 3DRobotics X8.

No matter how this situation is being managed, it presents a very interesting legal scenario, that could test some of the implications of the existing Canadian UAV Regulations.

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Comment by Dan Neault on March 20, 2015 at 9:37am

Everyone in the area, and the ski hill owners. have to sign they agree to the operation. The only issue is "the area" as I read it. So far we have been in remote area's. and have only needed land owners sign off. Since it has been for mining. there insurance carried the risk.

Should be interesting if they do have TC's ok

Comment by Steve St.Clair on March 20, 2015 at 9:51am

Hmmmm. Very interesting, to say the least. I have a feeling things are going to get somewhat more complicated.

Personally I think it won't last without some kind of competency licence for the operator.

You can rent a uhaul.....but you can't rent a plane quite as easily.

cheers, Steve

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on March 20, 2015 at 10:01am

One might wonder why you can rent a Uhaul, but not a 2kg UAV.  

I still remember the day I picked up a 24 foot Penske cube van, from a facility in Toronto, and headed out on the 401.  I could not believe this was safe and legal.  After a couple of hours I was used to it, but, holy cow.

If the situation is as I theorized, it raises very big questions. So the company which wants to sell video from a UAV, finds that it is legally easier to have completely untrained users operate the system, than to have trained, skilled pilots?

Comment by Steve St.Clair on March 20, 2015 at 10:31am

Generally, I guess I would say flying Phantoms and multis of that size is low risk. Perhaps it can work.

I would like to see the insurance costs though. Ultimately, they would be responsible for anything that happens.

Comment by Dwgsparky on March 20, 2015 at 11:34am

So I can set up something similar and rent a drone to myself and take pictures of a nearby farm and then edit my flight and sell it back to myself and give the pictures to the farmer who pays me for the editing.. cool , I'm OK with that. sounds wonderful.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on March 20, 2015 at 12:25pm
Let me know how that works out for you.. ;)

The operator is saying this is under SFOC, which means trained pilot. So why the armband? Camera aiming? Is that even a function?

Comment by Dwgsparky on March 20, 2015 at 1:56pm

I think its a "follow me" gps locator, the UAV follows the subject at 20-30 feet. 

Comment by Bertrand Duchiron on March 20, 2015 at 2:39pm

Strange, on the SFOC the PIC name is printed and the SFOC is delivered to him and only to him, and is non-transferable since he is the one who have to respond to TC in case of problems.

Comment by Rob Dunbar on March 20, 2015 at 2:50pm

Rob, also just think of all those 35+ foot motorhomes on the road. Most of them driven with an average age over 70. Yet I don't here politicians/bureaucrats demanding extra licenses for these either. 

Comment by Mark Langille on March 20, 2015 at 3:01pm

SFOC is NOT tied to the PIC.  It is tied to the Operations Manager/Operator.  We have multiple pilots on our SFOC.


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