In part 1 of The Drone Operator’s Guide to the UAV Galaxy, we explored the 7 rules you must follow before your drone takes off. In Part 2, we look at 6 vital rules and general safety to respect once your drone (RPAS) is in the air.

Drones! They’re pretty cool and plenty of fun to fly! But no matter how skilled you are, there are very specific rules you need to follow; to prevent potential accidents and injuries. Many operators and pilots get into the business not knowing the obligations and the rules they need to follow and they tell me me they could go mad from all of the information that is out there… Actually, I feel as though many have said the following to me in other words:

“Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Don’t panic! We are here to help you.

1. Take Off

As the pilot, make sure to always maintain a safe distance from your drone when taking off and landing. The last thing you want is to be in the way during take off and have a run in with the spinning propellers or with the drone itself. Getting hit by a small drone (2 kg in weight) could cause the injuries or a concussion. A 2 kg drone could generate 3.17J/cm2 which is higher than a tennis ball being served by a pro tennis player.

2. Maintain Line of Sight

Transport Canada requires that you maintain visual contact with your UAV at all times and be sure you have a spotter as part of your commercial flight crew. Also, during flight, keep track of the weather. If poor weather rolls in, your view of your drone might be obstructed causing you to lose your drone due to a crash. You should always end the flight for safety before the weather gets bad.

3. Respect Flight Height Limit

As per Transport Canada rules, do not attempt to fly greater than 90 m above ground level. Likewise, if you’re operating a UAV in the US, the FAA requires that you fly no higher than 400 ft (120 m) above ground level. If you are exceeding 90 m when flying in Canada, make sure your SFOC permits it.

4. Keep Control

Like driving, do not operate a drone if distracted and always have both hands on the controls. You need to be in control at all times to make adjustments to the pitch, to the roll and to the yaw. Conditions can change in a second. If you take your hands off the controls, a sudden gust of wind could crash your drone or cause it to hit something or someone.

5. No Drugs or Alcohol

Transport Canada prohibits the piloting of a UAV within 8 hours of consuming alcohol or any drugs that may impair your faculties. This is often referred to as “8 hours from bottle to throttle”. If you have had a drink, wait 8 hours or you could be charged with an FUI (flying under the influence). This also extends to members of the crew that are supporting the pilot during the operation.

6. Respect Privacy

As drones have become more popular, the public has a growing concern that their privacy has been invaded. This has resulted in complaints being made against drone users and some have even been shot out of the sky when flying over private property! Always get permission in writing if you are taking off and flying near someone’s property. In Canada, we all must respect the Criminal Code, your Provincial Trespass Act, in addition to all applicable municipal, provincial and territorial laws.

Be careful of the space and privacy of others and be sure that you have permission to fly on or over someone else’s property. Local police have been known to get involved if laws are broken, including the Criminal Code and privacy laws – regardless if you have an SFOC or flying under the exemption rules in Canada.

Thanks and safe flying!

Post author

Sean Smith, a forward thinking challenge oriented tech entrepreneur excellent at transforming innovative ideas and concepts, and developing them into sustainable companies. Having served in senior level leadership positions at both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, including as the Head of QuEST's Canadian Business Unit and as a Board Member for organizations focused on technology and welfare. Founder of Smith Management (Business Management Consulting) and VOZWIN (UAV Technology) in 2015, an awarding winning executive (2014 Wings Magazine Top 20 Under 40 Award Recipient), a recognized stakeholder by Transport Canada for UAV related items, and a founding member of the ENSCO Canadian Division, ENSCO's first international subsidiary (ENSCO Avionics Canada Inc.). Experienced with site start-up, lean operation, finance, technical and management leadership for projects spanning full life-cycle engineering development, growth strategy and business planning. Sean had been with ENSCO for over 10 years. He began his career at ENSCO in 2006 as a systems analyst and subsequently occupied positions of increasing responsibility in engineering and operations. He was the manager of Canadian operations from 2007 to 2011 before taking on the responsibilities as Director. During his tenure at ENSCO, he has been a key collaborator in the setup, development, strategic planning, marketing and growth of the Canadian subsidiary. Sean earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a specialization in thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and propulsion systems in 2005 from Concordia University. In his final year of his undergraduate program, he was awarded with the Richard M.H. Cheng Award by the University for his unique unmanned aerial vehicle design.

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