Drones, as every knows from YouTube, are becoming more and more popular. Canada’s governing agency for anything that flies, drives or floats, is seeing that trend reflected in the registration of Special Flight Operation Certificates (SFOCs). In an interview last week with Transport Canada, which has been governing unmanned aircraft since 1996, they stated that
Drones, as every knows from YouTube, are becoming more and more popular. Canada’s governing agency for anything that flies, drives or floats, is seeing that trend reflected in the registration of Special Flight Operation Certificates (SFOCs).
In an interview last week with Transport Canada, which has been governing unmanned aircraft since 1996, they stated that there has been a steady rise in the certificates issued since 2010, when a total of 66 SFOCs for UAVs were issued nationwide. That number increased to 159 in 2011, 353 in 2012 and 949 in 2013. In 2014, the number exploded to 1,672 and the first four months of 2015 have seen more SFOCs issued than in all of 2010 and 2011 combined.
According to Transport Canada, the department takes the use of drones and UAVs very seriously. When they find that someone has been using drones illegally, they will have an inspector follow up with the operator to ensure they operated using proper rules and safety. If they find that the operator did not follow proper rules, they do not hesitate to take action.
For instance, if the pilot flies without an SFOC in a situation where one would be required, fines can range up to $5,000 for an individual, or as high as $25,000 for a business. Those who do fly with an SFOC but do not follow its requirements can be fined a further $3,000 up to $15,000.
On top of all of that, all pilots are expected to follow the municipal, provincial, and territorial laws regarding trespassing and privacy. What this means is that it is essentially illegal in Canada to fly your drone over the property of someone else. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, that means someone who is caught flying where they shouldn’t could be charged with trespassing.
Currently, Transport Canada is working to amend the regulations regarding drones because of their surging popularity. On May 28, 2015 the department published a Notice of Proposed Amendment for Changes to UAV Regulations. These changes will apply to any UAVs that operate within visual line of sight, and weigh less than 25 kilograms. This would allow the organization to not focus so much on the smaller versions of drones, but on the larger ones that are heavier, require more skill to fly, and are often used in high-risk areas.
With drones making a lot of noise with hobbyists and businesses alike, it can be expected that Canadians will be hearing more about drones and their use from Transport Canada in the near future.
Thanks to Craig of DroneFest for this guest blog post. Looking for more information on how to navigate Canadian laws as they relate to drone piloting? Be sure to attend the exciting event this July 25, 2015!
Image via Flickr: reynermedia