Drone Safety in Ontario

Congratulations - you have bought your first drone and are on your way to learning how to fly it.

Besides reading the instruction menu, however, you should also keep in mind a number of rules and regulations when flying in Ontario.

Firstly, drones are considered aircraft, making you a pilot.

When you fly your drone, remember that you are sharing the skies with other aircraft.

Secondly, check how heavy your drone is.

Read this section of the Regulations regarding the operation of drones 250 kilograms (~55 pounds) or less.

  • All drones with a maximum takeoff weight of 250 grams (~0.55 pounds) up to 25 kilograms MUST be registered online (fee of $5). You can register online here.

  • Drones over 25 kg do not need to be registered but require a special flight operations certificate instead.

Thirdly, check what category of drone operation is applicable.

In Canada, there are 2 categories of drone operation: basic and advanced. These categories ONLY apply to drones that weigh 250 grams or more and less than 25 kilograms.

You are conducting basic operations if you meet all of these criteria:

  1. You fly it in uncontrolled airspace

  2. You fly it more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders

  3. You never fly it over bystanders

If you do not meet any 1 of these 3 conditions, you are conducting advanced operations.

For basic operations, you need to do the following:

  • register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time,

  • mark your drone with its registration number,

  • and pass the Small Basic Exam.

  • You must be able to show your Pilot Certificate - Basic Operations and proof of registration when you fly.

For advanced operations, you must do the following:

  • register your drone with Transport Canada before you fly it for the first time,

  • mark your drone with the registration number,

  • pass the Small Advanced Exam,

  • pass a flight review with a flight reviewer,

  • be able to show your Pilot Certificate - Advanced Operations and proof of registration when you fly your drone,

  • seek permission from air traffic control (probably NAV CANADA) to fly in controlled airspace, and

  • fly within the operational limits of your drone.

Finally, keep in mind all laws when flying your drone.

You should pay attention in particular to parts of the Criminal Code related to Breaking and Entering, Mischief and Offences against Air or Maritime Safety. You may also want to look up Ontario's laws about trespass, voyeurism and privacy.

Remember that you need to fly your drone:

  • where you can see it at all times

  • far away from other aircraft, including other drones

  • below 122 metres (400 feet) in the air

  • away from emergency operations and advertised events, such as parades, concerts, forest fires

  • away from airports (5.6 km away) and helicopters (1.9 km away)

  • outside controlled airspace (for basic operations)

How to Register Your Drone

You must mark your drone with your registration number before you fly the drone. You may be fined if you fly the drone without your registration number ($1000 for a person and %5000 for a corporation).

Disclaimer: This blog post is for general information purposes only and is NOT intended to be relied upon for legal advice, or to be construed as legal advice. Please consult with us directly through email (wlo@wdl-law.com) for legal advice about your specific situation.

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