Note: Since this publication, Interim Order No. 8 has been released. This post has been edited to reflect the changes.
On March 17, 2017, Transport Canada enacted an Interim Order respecting the use of model aircraft in Canadian Domestic Airspace. The order is intended as a temporary measure to protect airspace users, and the general public, until new regulations regarding the use of UAVs can be published. This interim order will affect anyone using a UAV between 250 g and 35 kg for recreational purposes. That is nearly all of the consumer grade UAVs available for mass purchase, such as those built by DJI.
For those that operate UAVs for commercial purposes, Transport Canada still has processes in place to govern their use. Those operators that currently hold an SFOC, or operate successfully under the exemptions to an SFOC, can continue to exercise those privileges.
For a UAV hobbyist in Edmonton, options now are very limited. The easiest option is currently to seek enrollment with the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC). Canfly Drones has built a map of the Edmonton area, showing shaded circles around aerodromes and heliports, and also the restricted airspace in the area of Namao. It should also be noted that the City of Edmonton has bylaws to in place that require a UAV operator to seek permission from the city before use of any parks for the operation of unmanned/model aircraft. Therefore, before any recreational flights occur in the City of Edmonton, you would need a very large backyard to satisfy the condition of flying to no closer than 75 m (or 30 m) from any building, vehicles, animals, crowds. For reference, most properties have backyards of between 10 to 20 meters width.
Other restrictions of the Interim Order include;
- Do not fly higher than 90 m above ground or water.
- Do not fly closer than 75 m from buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals, people/crowds, etc. for a UAV having a total weight of more than 1 kg, but less that 35 kg.
- Do not fly closer than 30 m from buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals, people/crowds, etc. for a UAV having a total weight of more than 250 g, but less that 1 kg.
- Do not fly closer than 5.5 km of the centre of an aerodrome (except a heliport).
- Do not fly closer than 1.8 km from the centre of a heliport.
- Do not fly within controlled or restricted aerospace.
- Do no fly within 9 km or a forest fire.
- Do not fly where you could interfere with police or first responders.
- Do not fly at night or in clouds.
- Keep your UAV within sight at all times.
- Keep your UAV within 500 m of you at all times.
- Keep your name, address, and telephone number clearly marked on your UAV.
Recreational UAV pilots are now liable for fines up to 3000$ for not following the Interim Orders.
While the Interim Orders have essentially cleared recreational UAVs from our city skies, we can hope the controls will relax once Transport Canada has a licensing process in place for all UAV pilots. We understand that Transport Canada is attempting to ensure that all critical airspace users are going to have a common level of knowledge. In anticipation of this, Canfly Drones recommends all UAV pilots to start studying. Transport Canada currently does not recognize any particular training establishment, but they have published knowledge requirements for pilots of unmanned aircraft. Here is a good article on self study options in Canada.
Transport Canada has released a helpful infographic on recreational use of a UAV.