February 27, 2020

TSB Reporting Requirements for Drones


An often-overlooked responsibility for operators of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in Canada is the mandatory reporting to the Transportation Safety Board of what it defines as ‘reportable occurrences’.

The proliferation of drone operations, especially for private use, have lawyers specializing in drone operations concerned that incidents falling within the definition of reportable occurrences may be occurring but not reported.

Under existing legislation and regulations, RPAS are considered aircraft, and as such they must report to the TSB any incident defined below (thanks to law firm Dentons for this list):

Who must report?     

  • A pilot with a drone weighing more than 25kgs that is involved in an “accident” as defined by paragraph 2(1)(a) of the TSB Regulations must report. *
  • A pilot with a drone that has come in direct contact with a person, where that person is killed or sustains a serious injury as a result must report.
  • A pilot with a drone that collides with another drone or manned aircraft must report.

 What should be reported?     

  • Information relating to the drone (such as the type, model and registration number), the responsible people (such as the name of the owner, operator, pilot-in-command), and details about what happened are included in what must be reported, according to s. 2(2) of the TSB Regulations.


  • Reports should be made “as soon as possible by the quickest means available,” according to s. 2(3) of the TSB Regulations. Any remaining information that was not provided initially should be provided “as soon as it becomes available within 30 days after the occurrence.”


  • Occurrences in or over Canada, or any place under Canadian air traffic control or where Canada has been asked to investigate, must be reported to the TSB.


  • The purpose of the TSB’s powers is to ensure aviation safety. Reporting assists the regulator and the industry ensure continued safety. If an investigation is launched as a result of a report relating to a drone, the TSB is required to prepare and make available a public report on its findings. Any safety deficiencies must be identified, along with recommendations that promote the interests of transportation safety.


  • Operators should call the TSB with their initial report as soon as possible after an occurrence.
  • TSB investigators are on standby 24 hours a day, 7 day a week and can be reached at:

Direct or collect: 819-994-3741    Toll-free: 1-800-387-3557

  • A full report must be submitted within 30 days of the occurrence by submitting a completed online reporting form.

* An “accident” includes a circumstance in which an individual dies or suffers severe injury relating to the aircraft, or the aircraft sustains structural failure or damage that adversely impacts the aircraft’s structural strength.

More information can be found on the Dentons-operated Drone Law Canada website.

Although model aircraft are included in the recently implemented Part 9 of the CARs, their operators have a long history of working within the aviation regulations as well as being knowledgeable of applicable rules.