Have you heard? “If you are flying a drone that is less than 250 grams, you do not need to register the drone or get a pilot certificate.” That’s great news! Especially if you are in a hurry to hire a drone operator to capture aerial photography/video for a time sensitive project. The person you found said they have a micro drone weighing 249 g and no license is required. But wait, is it really that easy? The simple answer is of course, NO.
What is a Micro Drone?
Micro drones weigh less than 250 g. The weight of the remote control is not included in the weight calculation, but the weight of payload (e.g., camera, etc.) is considered part of the weight. You don’t need to register your micro drone and you don’t need a license (RPAS pilot certificate.) Micro drone pilots are not subject to the same requirements as other drones. However, micro drone pilots must not operate their drone in a reckless or negligent manner, endangering (or likely to endanger) aviation safety of the safety of any individual.
What does Transport Canada say about Micro Drones?
Micro drone pilots do not need a license and are not bound by the same requirements as other drones. However, there is an expectation to use good judgment, identify potential hazards, and take all necessary steps to avoid any risks associated with flying your drone.
If you fly a micro drone, you must (Transport Canada):
- Fly safely – don’t put people or other aircraft in danger
- Avoid emergency sites and restricted airspace (e.g., forest fires, first responder perimeters, etc.)
- Follow provincial, territorial or municipal rules that may also apply, including rules about privacy and trespassing
As good practice, you should always:
- maintain the drone in direct line of sight
- do not fly your drone above 400 feet in the air
- keep a safe distance between your drone and any bystanders
- stay far away from aerodromes, airport, heliport and waterdrome
- avoid flying near critical infrastructures
- stay clear of aircrafts, at all time
- do a pre-flight inspection of your drone
- keep the drone close enough to maintain the connection with the remote controller
- avoid advertised events
You must respect all other laws when flying your drone:
- Relevant sections of the Criminal Code, including Offense against Air or Maritime Safety, Breaking and Entering, and Mischief
- your province’s trespass act
- laws related to voyeurism and privacy
- you must respect the privacy rights of others when you fly
Micro drones are considered aircraft under the Aeronautics Act and Canadian Aviation Regulations and are therefore prohibited to enter the following zones without the proper authorizations:
- Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace
- Zones where a NOTAM for Forest Fire Aircraft Operating Restrictions has been emitted
- Zones where a 5.1 of the Aeronautics Act restrict the use of airspace to all aircraft has been emitted
Legal requirements or recommendations?
For those paying attention, you may have noticed the use of the words ‘must’ and ‘should’. If you are thinking the former is a legal requirement and the latter a recommendation, you are correct. However, once again it is not that simple. As a micro drone pilot, you have a legal obligation to; fly safely; not operate your drone in a reckless or negligent manner; and not put people or other aircraft in danger. While it is recommended (‘should’) that you do not fly your micro drone above 400 ft and to stay away from airports, in doing so you risk breaking a legal requirement of operating your micro drone in a reckless and negligent manner.
The National Research Council Canada has an interactive Drone Site Selection Tool to assist drone pilots in determining flight restrictions for a particular location. Pilots can use this tool to locate their proposed flight operation area and any airports, aerodromes, heliports, etc. that would require further investigation prior to a flight. In some cases, drone pilots must request and receive a flight authorization from NAV Canada before flying their drone in a specific location.
What is the risk?
If you’re thinking; “It’s a small job that will take 10 minutes, nothing will happen and no one will know” – think again! You could face serious penalties, including fines and/or jail time, if you break the rules.
Fines for individuals
- up to $1,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
- up to $1,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
- up to $1,000 for flying where you are not allowed
- up to $3,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk
Fines for corporations
- up to $5,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
- up to $5,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
- up to $5,000 for flying where you are not allowed
- up to $15,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk
If you break more than one rule, you could receive multiple penalties (Transport Canada)
Your corporate image is an extremely valuable asset to your business. Being fined for an offence severely impacts your credibility. Being associated with a serious drone-related accident (as a result of hiring an unlicensed pilot) could be catastrophic to your business. Is it worth the risk? Have you ever researched a company online only to discover poor reviews? That could be your business, after being exposed to drone-related accident.
Feel confident knowing that 360 Thermal Horizons maintains full public liability insurance covering our operations. Our pilots hold Advanced Pilot Certificates, certified by Transport Canada. We conducted all flight operations in strict accordance with all applicable rules and regulations. We take safety seriously, and so should you.
We often use micro drones for operations that do not require thermal imaging. These drones provide ultra-clear 4K video and high-resolution pictures, thanks to a 12MP camera. In many cases, we can conduct quick flight operations using a micro drone. As a licensed and insured drone service provider, you can feel confident that we conduct all operations with safety as a primary focus. Our corporate image is just as important as yours, and we’ll work with you to build and maintain that.