Canada simplifies UAS rules

By UAS Magazine Staff | January 12, 2015

Canada is ahead of the game when it comes to integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace. While the UAS industry in the United States continues to wait for the Federal Aviation Administration to lay out commercial operation regulations, Canada has the complexities figured out.

Canada has had safety regulations governing the use of UAVs in place since 1996, and Transport Canada recently announced two exemptions that simplify small unmanned air vehicles (sUAV) operations and safely integrate sUAVs into Canadian airspace.

The exemptions state that special flight operations certificates won’t be required for UAVs under two kilograms (4.4 pounds) and certain operations involving UAVs under 25 kg.

“These exemptions will require companies to fly sUAVs within certain safety conditions including height restrictions, minimum distances from aerodromes and other hazards, as well as flight in specific airspace and visual line of sight,” a spokesperson for Transport Canada told UAS Magazine.

The 25 kg weight threshold was developed based on research from a joint Transport Canada industry working group of UAV systems program designers. The threshold is also consistent with international approaches to classifying UAVs, including ongoing work by the International Civil Aviation Organization, according to Transport Canada.

“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 safety of those on the ground and in the skies,” said Lisa Raitt, minister of Transport.

If operators are caught flying UAVs without special flight operations certificates, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a company. Misconduct of special flight operations certificates can result in $3,000 fines for individuals and $15,00 for a company, according to Transport Canada.

“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,” said Steward Baillie, chairman of Unmanned Systems Canada. “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.”