Transport Canada’s new rules come into effect on June 1 for drones that weigh between 250 grams (the weight of 10 granola bars) and 25 kilograms. Part of the new rules state that users now need to register their drone and pass a test before being allowed to fly.
Felix Weber of Ag Business and Crop Inc., who has been selling drones and training people how to use them since 2012, said the rules put everyone on the same page and help make flying a drone safer.
The new rules sort drone users into a basic or advanced category. You are a basic drone operator if you are in uncontrolled airspace (more than 100 feet horizontally away from other people and never over them). Many farmers would qualify as a basic operator, Weber said.
However, there are still fees to pay. All drones need to be registered with Transport Canada ($5 for both basic and advanced). If you fly an unregistered drone, you can be fined $1,000 for a person and $5,000 for a corporation.
Users also need to pass an online test. Basic drone users have 90 minutes to complete 35 multiple choice questions. A pass is 65 per cent. The cost is $10, but if you fail, you need to wait 24 hours before taking the test again (and pay an additional $10).
The advanced exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions. However, there are only 60 minutes to complete the test and a pass is 80 per cent. An advanced user also needs to complete a flight review from a drone flight school to get certified. The school sets the price. There are 19 drone flight schools in Ontario, including eight in Western Ontario. A full list can be found at Transport Canada’s web site.
Both Transport Canada and Weber recommend drone users take a course. A drone training school can be eight hours a day for four to five days and can cost around $700 from Clarion Drone Academy and run as high as $1,500-plus. The current rules state that drone users must have 20 hours of ground school and at least $100,000 of liability coverage, but those requirements disappear in June.
Some of the other rules — which include staying away from emergency operations, forest fires, parades, outdoor concerts, and 5.6 kilometres from airports and 1.9 kilometres from heliports — remain the same.
Fines for breaking the rules range from a maximum of $3,000 for individuals to a maximum of $25,000 for a corporation.