In this article, we’ll be looking at the different types of applications for SFOCs, so you can get a better idea of which one is the best option for you. Currently, TC has four different types of applications. They include Compliant Operator Application, Restricted Operator Application (complex), Restricted Operator Application (simple), and Restricted Operator Application (MAAC/AMA).
Compliant Operator Application
This is the most complex application. It’s the one that TC prefers applicants to use because it offers more flexibility in operations and can be issued for a longer period of time. However, it can take time to complete all of the needed parts of the document, and you need to provide a wealth of information to TC in order to get the SFOC.
They would allow small UAVs to be operated within visual line of sight day or night. The application also needs to prove the qualifications of the pilots, ensure the UAV systems meet the standards, and that the UAV operator is compliant. The application needs to include a UAV operations manual, SOP, training manual, system flight manual, maintenance manual, a declaration of compliance, and a statement of conformity.
Those who choose this application route will find that they have fewer options and a little less flexibility than a compliant operator. These can be issued for special operations that are short-term or longer term (up to a year) permits for operators who are not willing or cannot meet the Compliant Application criteria. Those who may be eligible for the complex application include those who have “small UAVs, a max takeoff weight of more than 25kg, model aircraft, BVLOS operations, air show UAVs, eligible foreign operators, and UAVs operating in Class F restricted airspace used for UAV development and testing.”
The simplified application applies to “small UAVs operating within visual lines of flight conducting pilot training or aerial work.” This does not include demonstrations or air shows. There can be only a single pilot from a single control platform or station. The max altitude is 300 feet, and has to stay at least 100 “lateral feet from persons not associated with the operation”. As you can see, the restrictions for this type of application are quite heavy. It is also the process to be used when first starting to apply for SFOCs, so as to start getting a "track record" of safe operations.
The MAAC/AMA is for those who are flying recreational model aircrafts, so it does not apply to those who are using UAVs for commercial purposes.
The goal of TC is to eventually get everyone to go through the Compliant Operator application process. Even though it might take longer, it does offer the most options and flexibility.