Transport Canada eases drone regulations

Transport Canada is implementing new rules that will make it easier for operators to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for work. Under the new exemptions, a Special Flight Operations Certificate will not be required for UAVs under 2 kilograms and certain operations involving UAVs under 25 kilograms. The new approach will apply to commercial operations and contribute to a strong safety regime for those on the ground and in the skies, according to a Transport Canada release. Once the changes come into effect later this month, operators must check on Transport Canada’s website if the exemptions apply to them and respect specific safety conditions, including requirements to operate within visual line-of-sight, maximum altitudes and away from built-up areas and aerodromes. In addition, Transport Canada is simplifying the application process and reducing the time it takes to issue Special Flight Operations Certificates for larger UAV operators UAVs are gaining in popularity for their use in commercial applications such as surveying open-pit mines or stockpiles in mining, inspecting bridges or wind turbines, tracking animals through thermal imaging, or taking water and soil samples.  Currently anyone operating a UAV without a Special Flight Operations Certificate can receive a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual and $25,000 for a company. If an operator does not follow the requirements of their Special Flight Operations Certificate, Transport Canada can issue fines of up to $3,000 for an individual and $15,000 for a business. Certificates are processed on a first-come, first-served basis and take up to 20 working days to be processed. Between 2010 and 2013, the government issued 1,527 approvals for UAV operations.