Category: <span>Training</span>

AIM News

Latest resource for Canadian RPAS pilots

The Transport Canada Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) has been around for a long time.  It has always been one of the first references for operating pilots in Canada, and as such, is on a continual update cycle.

The most recent revision includes a new section for RPAS pilots.  In addition to highlighting relevant sections of the Canadian Aviation Regulations Part IX, there is good technical information relevant to operating an RPA in Canadian Domestic Airspace. Definitely give it a read if you are about to write your advanced exam.


RPAS site survey tools for Canada

There are two fantastic tools available to RPAS pilots in Canada. Both have been available since June 1, 2019, and were released to coincide with the PART IX of the CARS taking effect. Both are invaluable to the site survey and flight planning stages.

NRC drone site selection tool

The first tool comes from the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada. Their online drone site selection tool will show most (but not all) of the potential ‘no fly zones’. The tool allows the user to choose between a basic and advanced operations. With the filter selected to ‘basic’, areas where basic operations are not permitted turn red. Turn the filter category to ‘advanced’, and those areas become yellow.

Much of the interpretation of aviation maps has now been done for the user. Some notable items and areas on display for the user are;

  • CAR 901.47 aerodromes that apply to both basic and advanced operations.
  • CAR 901.73 airports and heliports, for which an advanced certificate is required. Note: While most airports and heliports may be in controlled airspace, it is not a requirement. There are many airports and heliports that exist in uncontrolled airspace, and that fact has the potential to cause confusion.
  • Controlled airspace up to 400’ above ground level. Not all of the controlled airspace is managed by NavCanada. The tool also brings in some information regarding the airspace operating authority, and notes to assist the RPAS operator in any special coordinations that may be required for access to the airspace.
  • National Parks which are regulated by the Aircraft Access Regulations.

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Writing Transport Canada RPAS exams

Preparing for the Transport Canada Pilot Certificate Small Remotely Piloted System (RPAS), Visual line-of-sight (VLOS).

With the publication of the Part IX to the Canadian Aviation Regulations in the Canada Gazette, a pilot certificate for Small Remotely Piloted System(RPAS), Visual line-of-sight(VLOS) endorsed for ‘advanced’ operations will be needed by June 1, 2019, in order to operate in controlled airspace, near airports and heliports, and to operate near people. Transport Canada has already opened up the drone portal system for the administering of the exams, and self-declared training organizations are revising curriculum in order prepare students for the online exam. In addition to the online examination, the RPAS pilot will need to undertake a flight review with a designated flight reviewer, but this article will only focus on preparation for the advanced online exam.

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Drones and NOTAMS

Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) have been used in aviation since the days of the original teletype. Sending data across wireless was once upon a time a costly process, where only the alphanumeric characters critical to the message were transmitted. That’s how NOTAMs become messages full of abbreviations, half words, and words without vowels.

While NOTAMs serve a specific purpose to manned aviation, unmanned aviation is still trying to determine how to best use the tool. Around 2013, when cost and reliability of consumer grade drones allowed for their proliferation, regulators sought to notify manned aviation of potential aviation hazards. The quickest tool to use was the NOTAM. For example, airplanes and cranes do not generally mix well together, especially in low visibility weather. As a temporary crane will not be illustrated on aeronautical charts, pilots are officially notified of the hazard through the publication of a NOTAM.

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Flight Planning for UAVs in Canada

Canadian UAV operators need to conform to the manned aviation system at every opportunity.  The is no industry standard for presentation of aviation data in ground control software (GCS) or UAV interfaces, and manufacturers are left to present information they believe is relevant. The information to present is being decided by engineers and marketing people, not necessarily experts of flight regulations in the county of intended use. Ultimately, responsibility rests with the unmanned pilot to be aware that the data being presented by the manufacturer may not be valid, accurate, or relevant. When a drone flies where it should not, regulators and enforcement will not allow blame to be deferred to the manufacturer (because the manufacturer allowed to drone to operate where it should not); the buck stops with the pilot-in-command!  There are some very good (free) tools available to unmanned pilots to assist in the mission planning and site survey phases of operations.

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How many manuals do I need to fly a…

Recreational drone pilots

In Canada, the quick answer is none.  When Transport Canada released Interim Order No. 8 Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft in 2017, there was no requirement for the operator to have any level of minimum knowledge of the model/UAV being operated.  The operating interfaces of modern recreational UAVs are becoming so intuitive that any operator with a good working knowledge of smart phones, can easily start flying in a matter of minutes from bringing home a new acquisition from the local electronics store.

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