Ottawa, Canada – Friday November 28, 2014. TriLink Aerospace Marketing today welcomed the new regulations, issued by Transport Canada, facilitating the use of small Unmanned Air Vehicles (sUAVs). Many commercial operations will no longer require the burdensome process of applying for a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

In most countries (including Canada), the operation of any aircraft is regulated by the federal government. Further, the definition of “aircraft” includes unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). Some jurisdictions call them Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). Transport Canada (TC) is the authority in Canada and like most authorities; it allows the unregulated use of small UAVs for pleasure or hobby use by exempting model aircraft (TC has issued safe operations guidelines, however). Unlike most countries, TC has had regulations in place to allow the commercial use of UAVs since 1996 but any such use required the issuance of a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). These regulations were implemented before advances in technology enabled the development of battery-powered UAVs weighing just a few kilograms and costing only a few hundred dollars. Now, the paperwork burden associated with obtaining an SFOC is out of proportion to the size and operational envelope (and, therefore, the risk posed to manned aircraft) of these smaller UAVs.

Under the new regulations, UAVs weighing not more than 2 kg (4.4 lbs) that are operated within sight of the operator and at altitudes of less than 90 metres (300 feet) above the ground are exempted from the requirement to obtain an SFOC. There are a number of other restrictions and conditions as well, including being further than 9 km (5 miles) from an airport, carrying liability insurance, etc. but none are particularly onerous. Operations of UAVs that weigh more than 2 kg but not more than 25 kg (55 lbs) are exempted as well but there are a few more conditions. Operations that cannot meet these restrictions are still possible with an SFOC.

These new exemptions pave the way for many jobs that are difficult, dangerous or impossible using traditional means to be easily completed with a small UAV. This includes inspections (antennas, bridges, wind turbines, etc.), mapping for agricultural or environmental surveys, low-level aerial photography and cinematography for entertainment or promotional purposes.