Are you flying a UAV for fun or commercially – Either way, follow the rules

Siemens Says – I spent two days this past weekend learning, participating, and discussing what it means to fly a UAV or drone in layman’s terms commercially. Once I complete the online course, another 20 hours of hard work and pass it with a 60 per cent, this is what I get.

“A certificate of completion that is required to operate commercially. You can either operate under the exemption, which is a set of highly restrictive conditions, OR you can apply for an SFOC (Special Flight Operations Certificate). There is not currently a UAV pilots license. The SFOC is the closest thing to a license at this time. Although at some point in the next year it looks like Transport Canada will bring in UAV Pilot Licenses,” said course instructor Matthew Johnson of M3 Aerial Productions in Winnipeg.

Johnson also told us an insurance policy is a requirement to operate commercially. You have to have insurance before you can get your SFOC. Or if you are operating under the exemption, you also need insurance of $100,000 minimum liability coverage.

If a farmer flies a drone to look at his crops to see how they’re doing, it falls under commercial purposes. Also, so you bought a family member a UAV [drone] for Christmas – Remember, it is not a toy.  

Rules for recreational drone users

  • You need to stay within 90 meters above the ground or lower
  • at least 30 m away from vehicles, vessels, and the public (if your drone weighs more than 250 g up to 1 kg)
  • at least 75 m away from vehicles, vessels, and the public (if your drone weighs more than 1 kg up to 35 kg)
  • at least 5.5 km from aerodromes (any airport, seaplane base, or areas where aircraft take-off and land. That means airports at Morden or Winkler and any other municipal and city airports in the country)
  • at least 1.8 km away from heliports or aerodromes used exclusively by helicopters
  • outside of controlled or restricted airspace
  • at least 9 km away from a natural hazard or disaster area
  • away from areas where it could interfere with police or first responders
  • during the day and not in clouds
  • within your sight at all times
  • within 500 m of yourself or closer
  • only if clearly marked with your name, address and telephone number Following these rules will help keep people, aircraft, and property safe.
  • If you do not follow these rules, you could face fines of up to $3,000.

For me to fly and use the pictures to post on my website, or for publication I need an SFOC in Canadian Airspace.  To operate your drone for fun and no other purposes or intents, make sure you follow the rules I have outlined here. The liability can be huge if something goes wrong when operating commercially, or for fun, the fine can be big, too.