One of the terms that you might hear on occasion is “blanket SFOCs”, and you may be wondering just what this is. In the past, these were essentially long-term certificates that gave the operator the power to perform a number of operations over a long period. This meant that they did not have to keep reapplying for each job and operation that came up.
The new process has something similar, but it goes by a different name. Currently, they are called Standing SFOCs. They are good for up to three years for compliant operators, and up to a year for all others. According to Transport Canada, “A Standing SFOC is issued to allow operations within a defined geographical boundary (e.g. municipality, province, region, etc.) at operating sites that have not been assessed by the Inspector as part of the application. Validity periods may be up to the maximum allowed in section 7.4 above. A Standing SFOC will not be issued until the UAV operator has gained sufficient experience and demonstrates a history of safe operations. Standing SFOCs will not be issued to initial certificate applicants.”
Today, one of the new requirements is that the operators will need to perform a site survey prior to beginning an operation. This should not be an issue, as it is common for all quality UAV operators to do this, even before it was required.
Transport Canada rules and regulations for Standing SFOCs include the following as well.
- “(a) Inspectors will specifically address in what class(s) of airspace operations are permitted and include specific conditions addressing operations in each class of airspace.”
- (b) When operations are proposed in ATC managed airspace, Inspectors shall impose a condition requiring the UAV operator to coordinate with the applicable ATS unit(s) a minimum of seven (7) days prior to commencement of operations.
- (c) Participation in air shows is not approved. Inspectors shall ensure that such a condition is included in the SFOC. Aerial demonstrations to illustrate system capabilities to customers may be approved provided appropriate conditions are included in the SFOC. Refer to Section 6.25 of this SI for further information.
- (d) In accordance with sub-paragraph 623.65(d)(3)(f) of the CARs, contact information must be provided for the Operation Manager or Ground Supervisor on site for each operation.
- (e) UAV flight training operations will only be approved for compliant operators.
- (f) Multi-regional SFOCs will only be issued to compliant operators.
- (g) One or more types of UAV systems may be authorized provided the systems have similar characteristics. This option is only available to compliant operators.”