New Regulations for RC Pilots in Canada: What You Need to Know
If you're an RC airplane or helicopter pilot in Canada, it's important to be aware of recent changes to the regulations governing drone and model aircraft operations. In the past, members of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) were exempt from RPAS rules and regulations. However, as of 2023, these rules now apply to all aerial RC hobbyists across the country.
So what does this mean for RC pilots who previously flew under MAAC? Here's what you need to know:
If your RC airplane or helicopter weighs between 250 grams and 25 kg:
- You need to obtain a Basic RPAS certification to fly.
- You need to register your aircraft with Transport Canada and mark it with the registration number.
Under the Basic RPAS certification, you can fly in uncontrolled airspace and must keep a 30-meter horizontal distance from bystanders. You cannot fly over people and must stay 3 nautical miles or more from a certified airport or military aerodrome and 1 nautical mile or more from a heliport. It's important to check with your local MAAC field to verify that the Basic certification is sufficient.
To obtain the Basic RPAS certification, Transport Canada recommends that you complete a ground school course before attempting the open book exam. The exam consists of 35 multiple-choice questions, has a passing grade of 65%, and gives you 90 minutes to complete it. It costs $10 per try, and you can retake it 24 hours after a failure.
The Basic RPAS certification exam is largely common sense, so we suggest that you attempt it before investing in online training courses. Although taking a course may be beneficial if you plan to work in the drone industry, it's not mandatory to spend a lot of money to obtain your Basic certification. Instead, consider reviewing the free study guides available online and taking the $10 exam to get certified.
- You can review what to expect on the Basic vs Advanced exam here
- Free study guides can be found here
If you fly in controlled airspace, you will need to obtain your Advanced Pilot Certificate, complete a flight review, and request authorization from Navdrone for the airspace before you fly. If your aircraft weighs more than 25 kg, you will need your Advanced Pilot Certificate and an SFOC application. If you fall under this category, you can contact us for more information.