Transport Canada Provides Insight into Changes to Drone Regulations and Confirms 2018 Release

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Transport Canada recently provided industry leaders with a preview of the final version of the official regulations for small drones (250g-25kg) operated within visual line-of-sight. Since the proposed text of the regulations was released in July 2017, Canadians have been eagerly awaiting the final version. At the 2018 Unmanned Systems Canada Conference, Transport Canada representatives revealed the key changes that will be reflected in the official text of the regulations (upon their release at some point in 2018).

Over the last year, Transport Canada consulted with stakeholders in the RPAS industry and the Canadian public regarding the proposed text of the regulations. Stakeholders and the public provided consistent feedback that the proposed regulations needed to be simplified, less prescriptive and more permissive to allow the industry to advance.

Transport Canada incorporated these comments, and indicated that, upon their release, the official version of the regulations will include the following key aspects:

  • Operations will be classified into only two categories (basic and advanced), rather than three;
  • Speed limits will be generally removed;
  • Flights over built up areas will be permitted;
  • Flights near people will be permitted for advanced operations (under certain circumstances);
  • Design standards for drones will only apply to advanced operations;
  • Liability insurance will not be required;
  • Night operations will be permitted;
  • Restrictions for flights near aerodromes will be relaxed;
  • Maximum flying altitude will be increased from 300 feet AGL to 400 feet AGL; and
  • Registration of a drone with Transport Canada and display of its assigned number will replace the need to list the owner’s personal contact information on the drone.

Additionally, the official regulations will likely contain a change in the nomenclature for drones, which have historically been referred to as “unmanned aircraft”, to “remotely piloted aircraft systems” (RPAS) because it is more inclusive terminology.

The official form of the regulations will come into force six (6) months after it is released in the Canada Gazette, Part II.