Transport Canada (TC) is proposing to introduce fees related to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), more commonly referred to as drones, for routine, lower-risk operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the drone pilot and operations within visual line of sight (VLOS) of the pilot with heavier drones. Unless stated otherwise, the term “lower-risk BVLOS operations” will be used to refer to both categories of operations.

In particular, TC proposes to:

1) Introduce fees for activities that would enable routine, lower-risk BVLOS drone operations:
• Conducting knowledge exams for pilots seeking the new pilot certificate for conducting lower-risk BVLOS operations;
• Issuing pilot certificates for conducting lower-risk BVLOS operations;
• Issuing RPAS operator certificates (ROC) to organizations and individuals who want to conduct routine lower-risk BVLOS operations; and
• Validating “Declaration Plus” plans submitted by manufacturers.

2) Introduce fees for two categories of RPAS Special Flight Operations Certificates (SFOCs), low-complexity and high-complexity, which would be required for various types of higher-risk drone operations, as well as introduce a fee to re-issue an SFOC with a minor amendment.

3) Update the price for registering small drones and extend the applicability of the registration fee to drones weighing over 25kg up to and including 150kg.

4) Extend the applicability of the existing fee for a Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations to cover:
• Specific types of RPAS operations within VLOS with drones weighing over 25kg up to and including 150kg; and
• Specific “localized BVLOS” RPAS operations, as described in Section V of the table below.

This fee proposal supports work underway to introduce regulatory amendments to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). These regulatory amendments aim to enable routine, lower-risk BVLOS operations without the requirement to obtain an SFOC. TC is targeting pre-publication of the proposed regulatory amendments, including the proposed fees, in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in the fall of 2021.

Proposed Fees
To enable routine, lower-risk BVLOS drone operations, under the proposed regulatory amendments, TC would offer new and modified drone activities, and charge fees as outlined in the table below. These new and modified drone activities would be in addition to TC’s current drone activities. The prices shown would be effective when the fees initially come into force. On an annual basis, the fees would be adjusted for inflation. This annual fee adjustment would also become applicable to existing VLOS fees.

Feedback on the proposed fees is being sought from stakeholders by way of this fee proposal. This proposal is part of broader fee modernization and regulatory transformation initiatives underway at TC. We would appreciate your comments in writing to no later than Sunday June 20, 2021.

Image: Created by COPA based on Transport Canada information.

(Photo: Valentin Valkov, Adobe Stock)