Drone License andPilot Certificate in Canada
A Guide on Everything to Know Before Getting Your Drone License...
By YIFEI ZHAO
Transport Canada’s new drone rules came into effect on June 1st, 2019. A drone pilot certificate, also know as drone license is required for anyone flying a drone that weights more than 250 grams. If you’d like to fly legal or become a professional drone pilot, here are the key things to know about Canada’s drone license.
Do I Need a Drone License?
Similar to driver’s license, obtaining a drone license is no longer a question of should, but when. Whether your flights are recreational or commercial, as long as you plan to fly a drone in Canada, you need to get licensed in either basic or advanced operations.
How to Obtain a Drone License?
There are two exams for a drone pilot: a written exam and an in-person flight review. The written exam can be taken any time online with Transport Canada. The in-person flight reviews are conducted by authorized training facilities such as AlteX
These rules apply to drones between 250g to 25kgs, operating within visual-line-of-sight.
Basic or Advanced?
There are two types of drone licenses: Basic and Advanced.
Basic license only requires the completion of an online basic written exam, and allows:
- drone operations in uncontrolled airspace
- outside of 3NM from airports and 1NM from heliports
- at least 100 feet/30 meters distance from public
The type of flights in Basic category are usually outside of major cities and away from people
Advanced license requires the completion of an online advanced written exam and an in-person flight review. With the advanced certificate a pilot can operate in controlled and un-controlled airspace, also with the right kind of drones, the pilot can fly with a minimum 16 feet/5 meters distance form public, or even over people with drones rated in that category.
In addition to a certificate or drone license for the pilot, drones also must be registered with Transport Canada, with the registration number displayed on the drone similar to the license plate on a car. Only one registration number is needed per drone, regardless of how many pilots will fly the drone. The cost for registration is $5 per drone.
When opearting with a drone license, a pilot also need to follow air law, airspace coordination requirements and keep flight records. In the past 5 years we have seen several regulation updates for the Canadian drone industry. The new pilot licensing process and updated air law is providing a more supportive regulatory environment. Of course, there are still many uncertainties and challenges ahead, but one thing is certain, with improved regulation and technologies, drones will gain capabilities that we can’t even imagine today.