Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Safety in Canada

UAV’s are fun, easy to fly, the technology has been around for quite a few years now and is rapidly growing as with everything in the tech market right now. The technology continues to evolve, and as with anything the prices begin to fall and suddenly consumers can buy a decent and affordable ‘off the shelf’ UAV to take home and play with. A UAV is often thought of as a toy.. well to some yes it may be, to others it is an amazing photography tool allowing you to capture that never before seen shot of that perfect moment. To others, a UAV may be a vital piece of equipment used on a daily basis for critical work activities, or maybe assisting emergency crews in a life threatening situation. Whether a UAV is used as a toy, a photography tool, or otherwise. One thing is definitive about UAV’s; they fly.

For years Hobbyist communities around the world have had particular areas they can take their model airplanes, helicopters, jets, etc. to fly. For fun, for practice or for competition these areas typically are off the beaten path, away from populated areas, away from aerodrome’s to not interrupt or risk any manned flight’s nearby. The aerial vehicles before today’s UAV’s were entirely limited to line-of-sight, if you couldn’t see it flying then, you have more than likely lost it. A person also had to undergo a substantial amount of training and put hours and hours of practice in with an experienced pilot using a ‘Buddy Box’ to try and protect their investment from plummeting into the ground if even the slightest error was made.

With today’s technology, we have aerial vehicles that have camera’s mounted on them, nearly anyone can take these out of the package and fly two plus kilometers while maintaining radio signal, we can see them on a map, so we always know where they are and how to get them home. It’s cool tech; these things are actually smart enough to fly themselves. Not only are there quad-copters, but there are octocopter’s, helicopters and airplanes that now support this technology. I was down this path when I was younger, I flew model airplanes, it took me a whole summer of weekends and the odd evening to learn at the local airstrip while hooked up to a ‘Buddy Box’. How the technology has evolved! This technologies new long-range capabilities has been very beneficial in very many industries but has also brought many problems to the skies. Suddenly people who were never taught or do not think about community safety or other people’s privacy are flying these UAV’s around enjoying the new views. If you weren’t told, you do not know it’s unsafe or understand the possible risks of it then what’s the big deal right?

Well not quite, when it come’s down to it there are a lot of risks, a lot of unknown’s when flying a UAV. The pilot is only aware of what he/she can see in the camera; this increases the risk for manned aircraft. Even though some of this technology is capable of flying two plus kilometers, taking never before seen photos, and cutting costs of otherwise expensive activities performed previously only by manned aircraft equipped with extremely expensive systems, there are rules around the use of UAVs. New age UAVs are a powerful and fun new technology, but it comes with responsibility.

Transport Canada has outlined the laws around UAV use within Canada here.

There are companies that can help a person or a company acquire an SFOC (Special Flight Operation Certificate) for any UAV commercial UAV operations. The Canadian Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles offers SFOC assistance, UAV Ground School Training, Consulting, and many other specialized services.

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