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What is a Drone?

A Drone is basically an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Now widely available to almost everyone & 'easy' to fly.

Over the last decade Drones have become vastly popular. With the stunning advancement of technology coupled with a cost that appeals too many wallets, Drones can be seen mostly everywhere we go.

So, to understand the logic of the way forward & the integration of safe usage, lets start by explaining a little about Drone terminology.

Drone Terminology

Drone terminology is something that should be understood up front as this will make the understanding of the regulations easier.
‘Drone’ is probably the most commonly known term but is a very generalized name. There are a number of different terms used in the rules & regs, so lets get to them.
Also known as:
  • UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • UAS – Unmanned Aerial System (refers to the general complete package – Transmitter, Receivers, Vehicle etc.)
  • RPA – Remotely Piloted Aircraft
  • RPAS – Remotely Piloted Aircraft System
  • RPV - Remotely Piloted Vehicle
There, not too bad hey?
For ease of reading, we will stay with the term ‘Drone’ for now.

Who Regulates the Sky ?

Who Controls the Airspace & what are they Regulating ?

In the last 10 years & more recently, Drones have exploded on the market & have been available to mostly every one.
Unlike with RC (Radio Controlled) Model Aircraft & Helicopters, Drones can be flown by almost any one as most are extremely high tech & take care of the intricacy of flying itself. This leaves the Pilot very little to do with the controlling of the flight, meaning that one can enjoy flying the Drone relatively hassle free.

This now means that the controlled & un-controlled air space around us has suddenly taken a massive hit from budding enthusiasts eager to get out there and enjoy this new found freedom.

Well, guess what? Also using the ‘same’ airspace are other vehicles….Yes, you got it…Passenger aircraft, both Civil & Military to name a couple. This effectively means that the airspace around us has just got more congested & more dangerous.

When you look up into the sky, what do you see? See any fences / barriers / Roads / Pavements or walkways…no? Not surprising as there aren’t any. So does this mean we are free to roam the skies with our new found joy? Absolutely……not, no way! When we are jetting off on our next trip do we want to be concerned about a drone or two in our flight path of our great passenger plane?

You may not realize it but there are roads in the sky, or best described as rectangular tunnels. These tunnels are what all of our Pilots use to transport their vehicles & cargo (us) to their destinations. These tunnels aren’t just at one height, they vary. Sure, some tunnels are, but some increase in height from one elevation to another. This is partly how the airways are controlled & kept safe.

Guess who regulates & maintains the airspace? That’s right, Our friends at Transport Canada. So, Transport Canada (TC) & our professional Pilots together work to maintain a safe sky all around us.

Drone Rules - A little History

Government of Canada.

For well over several years now, Transport Canada (TC) / NAV Canada (these are the Government of Canada Departments that regulate the use of airspace) have been inundated with the insurgence of enthusiastic Drone Pilots - both professional & personal. For those who followed the professional path (& to a degree some personal) & immersed themselves in all the learning, training & certification requirements, realized that we had to abide by the same regulations as those Pilots of the full size variety of aircraft.

Committed to being fully compliant (the only way to go!), following all the process's & procedures set in place was, & is, a huge undertaking, but absolutely vital for every ones safety. Every flight had to be logged with TC along with all the details of every aspect of the intended incursion into the sky…. Safety! Safety! Safety!

Well, sometime ago TC committed to establishing better process's to handle Drones & Drone-works. Setting about holding open meetings / consultations with the public all over Canada ( I personally attended & what a Great Job they did). The meetings were extremely informative & open. To be honest with you, considering the huge task they had & the mountain of rules & regulations to be navigated, looks like the impending rule changes scheduled for June this year are going to help tremendously in keeping the airspace safe.

So, to sum up: All the standing rules & regulations for Drones stand as at present until the new rules take effect 1st June 2019.

Congrats to all the Women & Men at TC & all the other agencies that contributed for a great job!

On January 9, 2019, TC 
published new rules for flying drones in Canada. These rules will come into effect on June 1, 2019. You can read up on the new rules but you still need to follow the current rules.