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Proposed UAV regulations in Canada will ground Small UAV Operators

Warning:  this is a long technical post. Read on if you are a UAV operator in Canada wondering what’s going on with the new Proposed UAV regulations.

On July 15th, 2017, Transport Canada released the long awaited Proposed regulations governing the use of UAVs in Canada for what will likely be the next 5-10 years. 

While there were concerns about the possible inclusion of the need for a medical, costly compliant operations development, compliant pilots and severe flight restrictions, the biggest issue revolved around the need for the use of a so called “compliant UAV”.

These “compliant UAVs”, of which there are only a handful currently available in Canada, cost from 4-10X more than the cost of the prosumer and commercial models commonly used by small operators.

Many operators wrote to Transport to highlight this concern.

Fast forward to 2017.

Transport Canada has just published the proposed regulations in the Canada Gazette with many pages of statistics, graphs and charts as well as an extensive economic impact. You’ll need several cups of coffee to be able to get through them.

Because they are so complex, it will take time to full understand them, but here is the key takeaway.

Compliant UAVs are still there in spades, and in spite of an attempt to grandfather UAVS purchased prior to Dec 2016,  Section 902.51(3) takes alway all of the key permissions that a SMAO need to fly anywhere near an urban environment.

What’s worse, the economic impact of the new regulations as stated in the charts mentioned earlier are all wrong since any SMAO operation in a so called “complex” environment will need to spend a LOT of money on a compliant UAV to stay in business, and be forced to scrap their existing UAVs when the regulations come into force sometime in 2018.

And to top it off, 902.51(3) is written in such as way as to claw back, in a very convoluted manner, the whole concept of grandfathering. Seems slightly dishonest.

We will continue to analyze the Proposed Regulations and comment on what we find.

I recommend that all SMAOs get informed on the new regulations and send your comments in to Transport Canada. You may not be able to stay in business after 2018 if you don’t speak up now.

You can send comments (within 90 days of July 15th) based on the following notice.

“Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations to the Minister of Transport within 90 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Chief, Regulatory Affairs, Civil Aviation, Safety and Security Group, Department of Transport, Place de Ville, Tower C, 330 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N5 (general inquiries — tel.: 613-990-1184 or 1-800-305-2059; fax: 613-990-1198; internet address: http://www.tc.gc.ca)”

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