Operating a GreenSight Commercial Drone in Canada
Golf courses in Canada were some of GreenSight’s first adopters. The value proposition of managing turf more efficiently while using less chemicals and water was especially appealing to our neighbors in Canada. Drone regulations there are a bit different than in the US, and have changed a bit over the last few years. In this article we’ll clear up some of the confusion, and walk new commercial drone users through the painless process to get cleared to fly.
GreenSight has helped our customers conduct hundreds of flights in Canada over the last few years, and has a great relationship with Transport Canada, whom we’ve always found friendly, reasonable and helpful. Commercial drone laws in Canada have always been a bit different than the US. If you are looking for information on how to get your FAA Part 107 operating license in the US, check out this past article: Getting Your Remote Pilot in Command Certification the Easy Way!. Canada has a great deal of wide open spaces and regulations are a little less stringent in some ways because of that. Canada also has a fairly large number of small airports, which can be a problem for potential drone operators.
As a part of our turnkey service, GreenSight makes sure all flights are conducted in compliance with local regulations and also provide full insurance. We walk you through the entire process, and ensure flights are safe, successful and profitable! We also take care of filing any necessary regulatory waivers. We make it trivially easy for you to use drone data to manage your golf course or farm more efficiently!
In Canada, a license is required to use drone for any commercial purposes. Transport Canada has a great page that lays out, in great detail, the rules. The test is quite a bit more straightforward than their page indicates. We’ll walk through the quick summary in this article of the parts of the rules that apply to GreenSight users, and how to earn your license painlessly. These rules apply for drones from 250g to 25kg, which is the majority of commercial drones, including GreenSight’s Dreamer drone which we supply to our golf and farming customers.
There are two different “classes” of commercial drone operations in Canada: Basic and Advanced. Most customers using GreenSight’s drone system in Canada will be operating under the Basic rules, unless your facility happens to be close to an airport or seaport. The rule is that if you are closer than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or military aerodrome, or closer than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport, then you are are considered an Advanced drone operation. To check your location for airports, you can use Transport Canada’s interactive drone mapsTransport Canada’s interactive drone map. If you look up your location, look for red or yellow areas on the map nearby. If you are in the 99% of Canada that is not close to an airport, you are clear to operate under the Basic rules. If you are in a colored zone, check the description carefully but most likely you will be operating under the Advanced rules. Feel free to contact us to investigate your airspace.
Basic Drone Operations – Most users are in this category. To operate under these rules, you’ll need to pass a quick and easy online exam to get your Pilot Certificate for Basic Operations. That’s it! You will need to do a little studying to pass the exam, but most of our customers manage it with a few hours of studying at most. For Basic operations, you only need a 65% score to pass. The exam is open book so you can lookup answers during the test. Depending on how you like to study, here are some materials:
- https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/publications/knowledge-requirements-pilots-remotely-piloted-aircraft-systems-250-g-including-25-kg-operating-within-visual-line-sight-vlos-tp-15263 – This is the full reference for all the information on the exam. It is around 35 pages, so fairly manageable to study directly if you prefer to study through written materials. We recommend having this page open while taking the test for reference.
- Youtube Video Study Guide from Don Joyce – This 30 minute video walks you through the basics and is a great review if you prefer to watch a video to study.
- Online Training Course from Dronecourse.com – This costs $49, but offers a one stop test center with study materials and practice tests if you really want to ace the test!
- When you have studied enough, you can take the exam online on the Transport Canada website. It is 35 questions, and you have 90 minutes to finish. It costs $10 to take the test. If you fail the first time, you can take it again after waiting 24 hours.
- One more note is that since the exam is online, it is also OPEN BOOK. Although you have a time limit of 90 minutes, you can search online for questions you aren’t sure of. Some of our customers have passed the exam after just skimming through the knowledge requirements.
- Once you pass the test you are ready to fly! GreenSight will be right with you during every flight, walking you through any safety issues or regulatory questions.
Advanced Drone Operations – To conduct advanced operations, you need to pass the more difficult Small Advanced Exam. The materials for this exam are identical to the Basic test, but you’ll have to know the material better. In addition to the online exam, you’ll need to pass a an in person exam including some basic flying skills that tests your ability to take over in an emergency and land the aircraft. Finally, for advanced flights, an airport waiver is required to get permission to your location. Thankfully GreenSight takes care of this as part of our standard customer on boarding! If you are in this category, get in touch to discuss the testing requirements.
- The study materials are the same as the basic!
- The Advanced version of the test is 50 questions, has a 60 minute time limit, and requires getting 80%! You need a better command of the material especially since you have much less time to search online for answers to questions you aren’t sure of!
- When you are ready you can take the exam on the Transport Canada Website. Similar to the Basic test, it costs $10, and you can retake it every 24 hours (for another $10).
- Once you have passed the online exam, you are ready to take your flight test. You’ll need to have your own drone, or already be signed up for GreenSight and have your drone in hand. You’ll need to do a little practice of some basic manual flight maneuvers such as takeoff, emergency procedures, and landing. Information on the in person exam requirements is here. If this list looks long, you could consider taking an in person training course where they will walk you through this and sign off on your test.
- When you are ready, you can schedule an in person review with a local examiner.
- If you are looking to use GreenSight’s drone intelligence service at a location where Advanced Drone Operations are required, get in touch and we’ll discuss these rules in more detail.
We hope this guide laid out the requirements to use our drone platform in Canada. We’ve helped many agricultural and turf management customers across Canada to leverage the power of aerial data to more more efficiently, and we’re ready to help you too! We’re happy to discuss your management challenges and walk you through expected benefits from using our system. You can get in touch through email, Phone: 844-484-7336, or schedule a meeting with our sales team.