As of June 1, everyone operating a drone over 250 grams will require a Certificate from Transport Canada to operate a drone. The purpose for the flight no longer matters… the same regulatory requirements exist for hobbyists as for commercial operators (everyone must have a Certificate and every drone must be registered).
For most farmers and rural businesses, a Basic Certificate will suffice – it will allow you to fly only in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace and at least 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) from certified airports / 1 nautical mile (1.9 km) from certified heliports.
Not sure what that means for you? Well, there's a new tool for that too: the NRC has created the Drone Site Selection Tool which will show you where you can fly with a Basic or Advanced Certificate.
There are of course other restrictions too, but these all make sense. The requirements require the pilot to keep the drone:
at least 30 metres (laterally) from people that are not part of the operation
within visual line of sight
no higher than 122 metres above ground
well away from any other aircraft, and away from usual traffic patterns around any airport
The Basic Test Since most farmers will be flying well away from any airports, the Basic Certificate will likely be all that they need. The Basic test is somewhat challenging, but it does make sense that one would need to know the laws and some basics of safe operation. The focus of the test is the new rules, so reviewing Part IX of the regulations themselves is essential. Many of the other questions on the test will require some research, but you have 90 minutes to write it, so there’s time to refer to reference materials. You cannot give or receive help from anyone or copy the test questions, but you can consult other resources. Many questions are written so that there is one incorrect answer and three that are good, better, best. That makes it somewhat challenging to figure out the right answer. But the good news is that they are all multiple choice questions: 90 minutes for 35 questions. And you need only 65% to pass. To prepare for the test you will want to especially brush up on the new laws themselves. Here are some other links to useful information:
Transport Canada summaries of the new rules
Small Basic Exam ($10 every time you write, can rewrite every 24 hours)
Drone registration (in the same Drone Management Portal as the test, cost is $5 – each drone needs to be registered by serial number and then marked with the registration number with a permanent label)
Aviation Information Manual (a great resource to use during the test for reference/research of unusual questions about manned aviation)
A Youtube video series that outlines the basic knowledge requirements: Don Drones On
Of course, we also teach you the details of the regulations at our Ag Drone School (watch for more dates & locations coming soon)
These rules are great news for farmers
Contrary to what you may have read in the media, these new rules are not only clearer than the previous ones, but actually enable rural drone use. They are tougher on hobbyists and will reduce recreational drone use, but they enable commercial and rural drone use. Some of the reasons these rules make sense for farmers:
No need to submit SFOC applications for most users
FPV goggles can now be used legally (with a visual observer present for safety)
We can now fly at night to check cows -- as long as the drone has visible positional lights
Ag Drone School
Our Ag Drone Schools in March and April were very well attended by farmers and agronomists. In addition to the details of the regulations, participants learn how to operate drones from their first takeoff through to full mapping missions.
We will be delivering our Ag Drone School again in spring of 2020 across western Canada. If you're interested in having us come to your community, please reach out. In exchange for use of a community hall and local food for lunch, we offer complimentary registrations to our hosts.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Markus at (780)448-7445 for more information.