What you need to know about drones

Pullback photo by George Kroeker via UnSplashIt’s becoming more apparent that Drones are all the rage.  They are very versatile.  They can hover in mid-air, do back flips and are able to fly into small places.  They are equipped to carry small electronic gadgets among other items, depending on the size and weight of the cargo.  Most popular item to carry is a camera.  You can get into places that aren’t easy to get to otherwise.  Drones were originally built specially for the Military, allowing soldiers to see what was going on out in the battlefields from above where it wouldn’t be so easily spotted.  Before you run out and buy one, there are laws pertaining to owning and flying a drone, especially when it comes to privacy.

So what is a Drone?  A Drone is a unmanned aircraft, meaning there is no on-board pilot.  They vary in size, speed, form, as well as, many more attributes.  They can be bought in stores as models and they can be built the same size of a plane. The larger Drones are mostly built to send to war.

Drones come in many shapes and forms.  They serve different purposes, some are used depending on the altitude that is needed to reach and their endurance.  Some look like smof all helicopters and airplanes.  They can even look like birds and other animals.  Some are even the size of regular manned aircraft and can stay in the air for days.  They are constantly evolving, getting smaller, smarter and cheaper.

Magic Flight photo by Karl Greif via UnSplashThe use of  Drones is beginning to expand more into civil aviation rather than for military purposes.  Government organization, private sector entities and amateur users are all eager to fly their Drones for many different uses in domestic skies.  Domestic operations are very limited in Canada because of licensing approvals and safety parameters by Transport Canada.

Use of Drones, also know as UVAs are fairly restricted in the private sector.  They are becoming more of a practical for commercial businesses and also be used for profitable uses.  They can be used for communication and -sale broadcast services, infrastructure inspection, natural resource monitoring as well as used for real estate agents to sell properties.  These are just some of the activities under the private sector.  The popularity is expanding as the regulations  change and are updated as UAVs.

In the Public sector, Drones are used for different law incidents.  They have become a useful tool to take aerial photos of accident scenes and make it so much easier to chase and track people easier that by doing it by foot.  They also aide in the safety of people that may be in anger if someone is tracking them down, hoping to get to the innocent to get them to safety.

The popularity of Drones for Recreational use has been growing faster than expected.  The cost of them has been slowly decreasing but, they are still costly enough that there hasn’t been an explosion of people purchasing.  Transport Canada and the FFA are working on laws and regulations regarding small model aircrafts.  They are becoming smaller, they can fit in the palm of your hand and can carry cameras that can take still pictures as well as streaming video that ends up on social sites.

UVAs are regulated under two different licensing streams.  Transport Canada is the civil regulating authority and the Department of National Defense is the military authority. For the most part, anything regarding regulations will be thoroughly explained for the Public sector and the private sector,  Transport Canada is responsible for establishing, managing, and developing safety and security standard and civil aviation in Canada.  Civil operations  include law enforcement, scientific research, or use by private sector companies for commercial purposes.  Domestic or foreign military UAVS come under the authority of DND when operating in civil airspace or military restricted airspace.

White drone photo by William Stitt via UnSplashUse for civil or commercial purposes are only authorized to fly with a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) issued by transport Canada.  No person shall operate an unmanned vehicle in flight except in accordance with a Special Flight Operations Certificate or an Air Operator Certificates.  SFOCs are generally short term and used on a case by case basis however, long term or blanket authorities can be issued for situations for those who have received a number of SFOCs in the past.  To be issued and SFOC, the operator must be able to demonstrate they are equipped to safely operate the UAV in the desired environment.  There may be restrictions where the UAV can not be operated over or within a built up city or town, or within a certain distance.  They may be denied operations around noise sensitive areas such as churches, hospitals, schools and parks.

The main concern regarding Drones is privacy.  With the wide range of technology that can be mounted on them allows them to be used for many reason.  The most popular attachment is a camera. There are different privacy laws depending on the use of cameras and what information they are collecting with them.  Of course, if you are a hobby photographer, you have to be more careful of where you operate your UAV compared to a UAV being used by law enforcement to gather information.  With the small size of some and their flexibility, they can reach into places where you might think would be a great place to explore but, you could be asking for trouble as it could be considered trespassing.  Always check rules and regulations if you are not sure and get the proper certificates that you need.  Check to see if you have to file a flight plan and to see if you need to have to be formally trained to be a pilot.  Not doing this could result in fines.

With the popularity of Drones exploding over the last few years, the laws have not been updated.  The same laws being used date back to 1996.  Recreational Drones are still classified under the same laws as the military are.  They were all the same that far back.  Today, there are hundreds of different types of UAVs and the regulations are being updated to match.


cameras, DND, Drones, fly, hobby, laws, military, privacy, private, public, SFOC, Transport Canada, UAV