Operating Your Drone Commercially Without a Permit? Use this Tool

Published on October 23, 2017

There are a number of commercial UAV operators in Canada that are attempting to operate under exemptions to the Canadian permit framework (flying with no Special Flight Operations Certificate, or SFOC in hand).  If you’re in this category, a recently launched map by Natural Resource Council Canada (NRCC) provides a method to plan flights and assist with the Canadian exemption rules.  

If you don’t hold an SFOC and you want to qualify for exemption, you must make sure that:

  • You are flying no closer than 5 nautical miles (roughly 9 km) from any aerodrome;
  • You are operating your drone at a maximum horizontal distance of no more than 926 metres (1/2 nautical mile) if your drone is between 1 and 25 kg;
  • You are not flying over people and property during your flight, or within 3 nm from a built-up area (defined as anything larger than a farmstead).
  • You are not flying higher than 300 feet (91 m) Above Ground Level

There are many other exemption rules that you must follow, but these are some of the most strict rules.  Adherence to the exemption rules can be achieved with the help of this online tool.

Click here to access the UAV Site Selection Tool.

This tool is also useful for those operating with a permit (Special Flight Operations Certificate), as proximity to aerodromes is still important when it comes to the need to file NOTAMs through Transport Canada and/or the applicable Flight Information Centre (FIC). 

If you don’t like the restrictions of operating under exemptions and would like to obtain a permit, more info is here: SFOC Application

Some further details on the web tool functions are below:

(Description from website)

* Displays a five (5) nautical mile radius red-colored ring around aerodromes found in the Canada Flight Supplement or Water Aerodrome Supplement, and a three (3) nautical mile radius red-coloured ring around heliports found in the Canada Flight Supplement

* Displays a 3 nautical mile yellow-coloured ring around aerodromes or heliports that are found in sources other than the Canada Flight Supplement or Water Aerodrome Supplement;

* Highlights any known airspace below 300 feet AGL that is not Class-G with a red-filled polygon with a yellow boundary line;

* Displays a green-colored ring around the cursor position when the user clicks a location on the map, which along with the use of satellite imagery may assist in determining proximity to built-up areas; and

* Displays a red ring around the cursor position when the user clicks on the map which identifies the horizontal distance limit for the selected UAV weight category.


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