Understanding the process for applying for an SFOC can be quite confusing, especially given some of the new rules and exemptions. In this series of articles, we’ll be looking at the different parts of the process and what you need to know and do on your way to getting an SFOC. One of the benefits about the new rules and regulations is that they are streamlining the process. This is making it faster and easier for businesses in Canada to start using UAVs. There is still some confusion though, so we’ll try to clear that up in these posts.
One of the exemptions they included in their new rules may be helpful to those who are in rural areas, for example. It allows users without an SFOC to use drones for business purposes. However, the rules are a bit more restrictive when you look into them. They require that you are at least five nautical miles from an airport or any built up area. They deem a built up area to be any large group of buildings. This means the exemption will certainly not work for towns and cities but even villages may be considered built-up.
In addition, they have limits on altitude, distance from structures, and more. What does this mean for operators? It means that using the SFOC, as they’ve been doing in the past, is still the best option. The exemptions were really developed for operators who are generally flying in lower risk conditions to avoid having to go through the more complex SFOC application process. But they still don't "exempt" you from complying with the conditions of that exemption. Before operating a UAV without an SFOC, make sure that you know and understand the full details of the exemptions. If you don’t, it could mean fines.