Bridging the Gap


Bridging the Gap

Canfly Drones will be expanding our blog, offering articles on how borrowing practises from commercial aviation can benefit UAV/drone service providers.

In the early days of setting up a UAV services provider, I learned that when speaking with Transport Canada inspectors, if I gave my brief background as an airline pilot, the pace of the conversation accelerated. A whole different world exists that people immersed in Canadian Avation share. From a common set of regulations (Canadian Aviation Regulations) and industry practises, to a whole new language of acronyms and technical terms, those with the knowledge base are able to communicate more efficiently, as there is no necessity to lay a common knowledge foundation. I remember an instance of listening to two nurses speaking about their workplace. Although the nurses worked in different departments of the same hospital, both were able to fully understand the difficulties and rewards of the others position. On the other hand, I was lost!

As UAVs will be sharing the same airspace as recreational and commercial manned aircraft,, the knowledge level of UAV operators will need to be comparable to the balance of operators. Currently, an educational disparity exists between manned and unmanned aviation; students of manned aviation have typically invested a minimum of months into learning their skill, as a requirement of the privilege to operate an aircraft in the Canadian Domestic Airspace. A UAV operator could potentially be operating in the same airspace as quick as it takes to get to the closest electronics store, and putting down money for the newest offerings from the likes of DJI. Transport Canada has been aware of this disparity for some time, and been trying to keep a level the playing field for all stakeholders. Commercial operators of UAVs have been required to demonstrate an above average understanding understanding of the Canadian Aviation Regulations through the granting of Special Flight Operating Certificates(SFOC), and the implementation of Interim Orders as a stop-gap measure until the Canadian Aviation Regulations can be updated to reflect new technology in unmanned aviation.

When I applied for Canfly Drones first SFOC, my learning curve was steep. Even though I already spoke the same language that all the documentation had been written in, I invested close to the same amount of time that a University student invests into one course in one semester. All the while, I wondered how someone without an aviation background could cope.

This blog will be an ongoing contribution by Canfly Drones to both recreational and commercial UAV operators. I will be sharing commercial aviation practices that can benefit unmanned aviation operators, and at the same time, start to act as a ‘translator’ between the current aviation environment and those that are willing to learn how to safely integrate their unmanned operations into the Canadian Domestic Airspace.

Feel free to contact me with suggestions for future entries!


Unmanned aviation consultant. Airline pilot. Aviation expert.