New RPAS/Drone Regulations Released for Canada

Montreal, QC – On Wednesday, Transport Canada released new regulations for the rapidly-growing Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) or industry in Canada. Published in Canada Gazette II, the new rules govern all aspects of Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) operations for all operators flying RPAS (commonly known as ‘drones’ or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/UAV’s) in the ‘small’ category (weighing between 250 g and 25 kg).

RPAS is the short name for Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems, the new name that Transport Canada will use to encompass the scope of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) or “drones.”

Read Unmanned Systems Canada/Systèmes Télécommandés Canada (USC-STC) Director’s comments and our association response below – but here’s a quick summary of important changes in the regulations, which include:

  • New Pilot Operator Certificate Licensing Requirements (two categories – Basic and Advanced levels). These mandatory Certificates will be required for BOTH commercial and recreational uses
  • New Transport Canada Testing Portal – Online exams for Basic and Advanced Certificates
    • Pilots seeking the new Advanced Operations Certificate will need to register then conduct in-person ‘Knowledge and Safety Demonstration Test’ in front of an Accredited Flight Reviewer
  • Drone registration and marking is required for all RPAS/drones starting today
  • A new Design Standard 922 will be implemented to ensure RPAS used in higher risk situations (such as close proximity to airports or the public) meet stricter safety design standards
  • Drone manufacturers are required to declare where their RPAS can be used in controlled airspace and near people
  • New age limits for Pilots, night flight permission (under conditions)

A number of USC Directors have taken an initial look at the new regulations and provided their comments:

Kate Klassen, USC-STC’s Training Committee Chair commented on the new VLOS Regulations:

“It is encouraging to see how much industry feedback was incorporated into the regulations released today.  Although Transport Canada removed the mandatory training requirement, USC-STC is pleased that the new regulations require a knowledge standard for all operators.”

Over the next few weeks, our Directors will do a deep dive into each section of the new regulations. We’ll continue sharing insights through our website and social media channels to keep the industry informed about the impact of Canada’s evolving legislation,” said USC-STC’s Communications Committee Chair, Kristin Kozuback.

“USC-STC also anticipates that most of our Committees – such as our UAS Flight Safety Standards, Training and Accreditation, and Policy/Regulations Teams – will lead webinars this year to raise awareness about these new regulations. Most industry, public servants, and academia will be impacted if they don’t comply by June 1st. We’ll continue to push for more open dialogue and host information sessions – hopefully, some will be co-chaired by Transport Canada.”

USC-STC Communications Committee Chair, Kristin Kozuback

Sean Adams joined USC-STC’s Board of Directors in November 2018. He responded to today’s announcement:

“As a recent addition to our national association’s Board of Directors, I’m glad to see that many recommendations from our Board and industry stakeholders seem to be addressed in these regulations. I look forward to helping educate people about the new regulations, best practices we’re developing, and all of the social, environmental and economic benefits that these new technologies can provide – when used responsibly”.

Another new addition to the USC-STC Board, Philip Reece, commented further on the RPAS Design Standard.

“Pilot Certifications, drone registries and more clarity around safe equipment/design standards should reduce the number of Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) permit applications for hundreds of compliant operators across Canada. This should also reduce the administrative burden on Transport Canada to review thousands of SFOC’s each year. This should streamline processing times for all of the pro operators working in public service, academia and industry who will still require SFOC’s and permits from other authorities to do ‘complex’ missions such as flights in dangerous environments, doing work or research projects above or close to people, and long-range or Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) missions .”

“Maybe most importantly, many now we can shift more attention to building on the results and lessons we are learning from various Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) projects for Transport Canada. That work will help to define the next set of regulations to enable long-distance missions yet maintain Canada’s high aviation safety standards. New BVLOS regulations will really open the market and the skies for more good drone work.”, Reece continued.

Read the Unmanned Systems Canada/Systèmes Télécommandés Canada response to the announcement in our Press Release, here.

The Transport Canada Canada Gazette II (CG2) Regulations start on page 55 of this document:

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