With use of drones exploding all over the world, federal, state, and local governments have been struggling to catch up with how to manage the legal aspects of this new cinematic and aerial tool. Many are flat out denying flight, while others are requiring registration and certification. But most are modeled on the U.S. FAA’s attempts to govern drone use, and Canada’s new drone rules seem to meet with approval from DJI.
“An ideal regulatory regime would adequately mitigate the risk of injury and property damage while allowing innovators the freedom to experiment and to use drones with minimal burdens or barriers to entry. We believe Canada can craft a world-leading regulatory regime that protects safety while encouraging innovation.” – Eric Ebenstein, DJI Head of North America Public Policy, via press release
Canada’s original interim drone rules were extremely restrictive, prohibiting drones from flying anywhere in the settled parts of Canada. But thousands of drone advocates across the Great White North lobbied Transport Canada to make reasonable changes that would administer drone use with safety and relative freedom. Canada’s transportation minister Marc Garneau then pushed for a major revision that would ease restrictions and allow drone users to fly their UAVs, but under the watchful eye of a new set of rules.
The new rules met with approval from DJI, who had been working with drone groups to lobby Transport Canada to revisit the drone rules.
“The revised Interim Order is a step in the right direction,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. “The extremely restrictive rules in the original Order prohibited a wide range of perfectly safe activities that are permitted by many other jurisdictions worldwide. The new version delivers some improvements. We commend the government for taking this step while working on permanent rules.”
Modeled after the FAA’s drone rules here in the United States, Canada’s revised interim order allows drone pilots to fly drones between 250 grams and 35 kilograms recreationally, but must do so at least 30 meters away from any person, vehicle, or vessel. If the drone is over 1 kg, then that distance is increased to 75 meters. Drones weighing over 35 KG will require a Special Flight Operations Certificate from Transport Canada, and there will be additional commercial rules.
Other restrictions include:
- At least 5.5 km from aerodromes (any airport, seaplane base, or areas where aircraft take-off and land) — reduced from 9 km.
- At least 1.8 km away from heliports or aerodromes used exclusively by helicopters outside of controlled or restricted airspace
- At least 9 km away from a natural hazard or disaster area including fires and floods
- During the day and not in clouds (previously just daytime was specified)
- Respect the privacy of others
Additionally, drones must be kept within line of sight at all times and cannot be flown outside of a 500 meters from the drone operators, and with an altitude limit of 90 meters. That’s not a lot, but it’s enough to get a decent cinematic image of the surrounding area.
Lastly, drone operators must tag all drones with their name, address, and phone numbers should the UAV go wayward and be lost. This will enable authorities to identify the drone when found. But there is no registration required, which was first tried by the U.S. FAA before an appeals court struck down that provision down recently. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with registration, but the tagging your drone with the information does the job. These new rules became official in March 2018, and pertain to recreational drone use only.
Failure to comply with Canada’s new drone rules will result in a fine up to $3,000 (CAD). More details can be found in Transport Canada’s Drone Fact sheet here.