Transport Canada is proposing to permit Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations for certain classes of RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems) deemed to be of lower risk.
The Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) would amend CARs Part 9, which was implemented in June of 2019 to regulate RPAS operation in Canada, by loosening flight restrictions in a category that TC refers to as ‘Lower-risk BVLOS Framework’. This means:
- For drones in the 250 gram to 25 kilogram range:
BVLOS operations in ‘Isolated Areas’, meaning within one kilometre of an area with a population density of greater than 25 people per square kilometre; over an area with a population density of more than 25 people per km2; and in controlled airspace.
- For drones in the 25 kg to 250 kg range:
BVLOS operations in Isolated Areas, and within one km of an area with a population of more than 25 people per km2.
- For drones in the 150 kg to 650 kg range:
BVLOS operations in Isolated Areas with a max altitude of 400 feet (122 metres) above ground level (AGL).
Also proposed are amendments to the existing Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) framework, including:
- For drones in the 250 g to 25 kg range, VLOS operations in uncontrolled airspace above 400 ft AGL (currently restricted to under 400 ft AGL).
- For drones in the 25 kg to 250 kg range, VLOS in Basic Operations ‘Near People’ and ‘Over People’ with increased standoff distances in controlled airspace, and over 400 ft AGL in uncontrolled airspace.
- For drones in the 150 kg to 650 kg range, VLOS in Basic Operations above 400 ft AGL.
Much of the push for regulatory change has come from industry, especially in the heavier RPAS categories. However, recreational RPAS users, as well as commercial users who fall into the 250 g to 25 kg range of RPAS, have also been complaining that the existing regulations, considered by many to be among the most restrictive among developed nations, do not take into account advances in drone technology.
COPA is taking a position against the proposed amendments on safety grounds. Appended below are a copy of the NPA and a copy of a letter from COPA’s president and CEO Bernard Gervais to the Canadian Aviation Regulations Advisory Council (CARAC, whose composition includes representatives from government, industry and labour).
Image credit: Goh Rhy Yan
RPAS NPA2020-012 - COPA Response June 22 2020