New RPAS VLOS rules announced

After missing the end of year release of new Drone Regulations, Transport Canada gave the Canadian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Industry a New Year’s present,

On January 9th, in Montreal, the Honourable Marc Garneau announced the new regulations covering the use of UAVs, now called Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS).

While largely in line with what had been discussed through 2018, there are still a few lingering issues that need addressing with large potential impacts to operators of RPAS.

Some Highlights

  • All RPAS Pilots will require a Basic or Advanced Pilots Certificates. The certificates involve an online test for the Basic Certificate, or an online test and flight exam for the Advanced.
  • Compliant Aircraft are going away, but any RPAS aircraft declared Compliant by April 1st, 2019 will maintain a compliant status until the end of life for that RPAS.
  • Compliance has morphed into three categories: Use in Controlled Airspace, Close to People (>5M) or over People (<5M) and must be declared by the Manufacturer, This is covered by a new Design Standard, Standard 922.
  • All RPAS must be individually registered with a “tail” or registration number “clearly” displayed on the RPAS.
  • No requirements for Visual Observers, Insurance, Medical or Mandatory Ground School.
  • Main provisions of the new Regulations come into force June 1, 2019.

In general, the new regulations seem reasonable and mostly balanced, and will start to give the RPAS Industry in Canada a better view of what’s needed to continue to operate, there are still a number of issues outstanding.

  • The manufacturers of RPA Systems must declare the ability to operate in the various new scenarios mentioned above, otherwise, no one operating in controlled airspace today can operate there June 1st.
  • Flight examiners need to be set up to allow the initial set of Pilots to be tested and certified.
  • The Design Standard is hot off the press and the documentation and effort to declare is not yet understood.
  • No Manufacturers have declared anything, and there is concern that older RPAS will be stranded and only allowed to fly in Class G airspace.
  • No recognition has been given to holders of National SFOCs to allow them to transition more quickly to the new rules.

Stay tuned. There’s more to come.

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