Transport Canada’s drone safety initiatives


Over the past year, Transport Canada has made progress on drones, also known as unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). The department is focused on a number of key areas including:

Helping Canadians report safety concerns

Every week, Transport Canada receives reports, emails, and phone calls from concerned Canadians about drone safety incidents. To simplify the reporting process, today a new online tool was launched that allows Canadians to report drone incidents from their mobile phones.

The tool makes it easier for Canadians and helps the department gather valuable information that will assist inspectors with investigations.

Improving regulations for drone operators

In spring 2017, Transport Canada will publish regulations in Canada Gazette, Part I, for small drones (25 kg or less) that are operated within visual line-of-sight. The department is taking a safety first approach to the regulations that facilitates opportunities for innovation, while addressing safety concerns. The proposed changes will introduce more flexible and clear rules for all drone operators. Canadians will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed regulations before they come into force.

Simplifying rules for commercial operators

Transport Canada will issue two new UAV exemptions for non-recreational operators that will replace the existing exemptions, which are due to expire on December 21, 2016. These new exemptions will allow UAV operators flying for work or research to conduct lower-risk operations without having to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). 

The new exemptions will allow operators to fly closer to built-up areas and smaller aerodromes as long as they comply with strict safety conditions and notify Transport Canada before flying. Detailed information regarding the new exemptions will be available on the drone safety webpage when the exemptions come into effect on December 22, 2016.

Supporting innovation for commercial operators

Transport Canada is also moving ahead to support innovation and research for UAV operators. On November 3, 2016, Minister Garneau granted the Village of Foremost, Alberta, approval to begin operations at their UAV test site. The site will support research and development and provide the industry with dedicated, restricted airspace where they can test UAVs beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). This project was a significant undertaking and saw strong collaboration between Transport Canada and the Village of Foremost.

Keeping our skies safe

With ownership comes great responsibility, and new operators must learn how to fly safely and legally. This holiday season, Transport Canada encourages all new drone users to consult the wide variety of educational tools available on the newly updated drone safety webpage.

Over the past year, Transport Canada has made a significant effort to help Canadians better understand the rules around recreational and commercial drone use.

In June 2016, Minister Garneau launched the No Drone Zone public awareness campaign that focused on partnering with airports and other organizations to educate Canadians about drone safety. Transport Canada also introduced “No Drone Zone” signs and has worked with 20 organizations to install over 100 of these signs in and around airports.

Working with retailers

In advance of the holiday season, Transport Canada is working with a number of retailers and manufacturers to ensure drone users are aware of the rules before taking their new gift out of the box. Manufacturers, including DJI, will include a Transport Canada safety card with every drone they sell. Retailers, including Amazon Canada, Henry’s and Best Buy Canada, will provide a link to the department’s drone safety webpage on their respective websites.

December 2016

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