Transport Canada has posted a new Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) to update Canadian regulations to allow for routine beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations in “Low Risk” environments. Comments are requested during a 60-consultation period which commenced in April 2020.
According to the NPA executive summary:
The Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) industry continues to grow in Canada and RPAS is being used across a number of sectors, such as agriculture, mining, academia, and law enforcement. That being said, the majority of stakeholders have reported that the regulations, or lack thereof, are a barrier to economic growth and as industry and technology continues to grow so does the demand for more complex flights and operations beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS). In January 2019, Transport Canada (TC) published new RPAS regulations for operations within visual line of sight (VLOS), and these regulations permit BVLOS operations under low-risk conditions with the issuance of a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).
Using the internationally recognized Specific Operational Risk Assessment process developed by the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems, the department is proposing a risk-based regulatory approach that has taken into account the overall safety of people on the ground (ground risk) and the users of the airspace (air risk) in order to permit visual line-of-sight operations with larger RPAS, including additional requirements to mitigate potential risks; as well as lower-risk BVLOS operations. In addition to the Strategic Operational Risk Assessment, the department is proposing a regulatory framework that continues to manage and mitigate risks through the 3Ps – the Pilot (more stringent licensing requirements; the Product (manufacturing and maintenance requirements); and the Procedures (airspace and operational risk mitigations). This proposal aims to allow greater flexibility in the use of RPAS for visual line-of-sight operations, while unlocking the potential for beyond visual line-of-sight operations in Canada. Higher risk BVLOS operations will be subject to a separate regulatory process at a later date. As a result, TC is proposing the following amendments:
Lower-risk BVLOS Framework
- 250 g to 25 kg BVLOS operations in Isolated Areas, within 1km of an area with a population of more than 25 people per square km; over an area with a population density of more than 25 people per square km; and, in controlled airspace;
- 25 kg to 150 kg BVLOS operations in Isolated Areas, and within 1km of an area with a population of more than 25 people per square km; and,
- 150 kg to 650 kg BVLOS operations in Isolated Areas with a max altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL).
Expansion of the Existing VLOS Framework
- 250 g to 25 kg VLOS in Uncontrolled Airspace above 400 feet AGL;
- 25 kg to 150 kg VLOS in Basic Operations, Near People and Over People (with increased standoff distances), in Controlled Airspace, and over 400 feet AGL Uncontrolled Airspace; and,
- 150 kg to 650 kg VLOS in Basic Operations above 400 feet AGL.
Transport Canada is also exploring remote identification requirements that could support aviation security. As the RPAS economic sector continues to evolve, Transport Canada is also looking to Canadians for insight regarding the economic framework for RPAS of the future.
The intent of the paper is to initiate rulemaking consultations for lower-risk RPAS operations beyond visual line of-sight and seek feedback regarding the economic framework. The department is initiating a 60-day consultation period and looking for feedback from stakeholders on these proposed amendments by inviting stakeholders to send their comments to: TC.RPASRegulations-ReglementsSATP.TC@tc.gc.ca.
The Notice of Proposed Amendment is available here:
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