Development of UAV Regulations A Transport Canada – Unmanned Systems Canada Joint Program An Update


Within Canada, aviation regulations are approved for development under the auspices of the Canadian Aviation Regulatory Committee (CARC) – a Transport Canada (TC) body – based on recommendations from the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC) Technical Committee – a committee whose membership consists of TC and interested stakeholders. This committee is open to all who have an interest in the subject matter under discussion. Interested parties should register with the TC CARAC Secretariat. At a CARAC Technical Committee meeting in June 2010 the terms of reference and make-up for a UAV Program Design Working Group were approved. This Working Group, co-chaired by TC and Unmanned Systems Canada, is charged with developing recommended regulations which will permit full integration of UAVs in Canadian air space. The mandate for the UAV Working Group is split into four phases:

  • Phase 1 – UAVs with a maximum take-off weight of 25 kg or less and operated within visual line-of-sight (VLOS);
  • Phase 2 – UAVs with a maximum take-off weight of 25 kg or less and operated beyond VLOS;
  • Phase 3 – UAVs with a maximum take-off weight of 150 kg or less and operated in all flight conditions; and
  • Phase 4 – UAVs of all sizes operated in all flight conditions.

In June 2012, the UAV Working Group provided its recommendations for Phase 1 to the CARAC Technical Committee for comment and approval. These recommendations and Technical Committee comments have now been passed to TC for CARC review and approval. Once approved, the recommended regulatory changes will be held pending completion of the next three phases; however TC has committed to amending the UAV SFOC Staff Instructions to reflect the proposed regulations to the maximum extent possible; thereby providing a greater assurance of SFOC approval when the applications comply with proposed regulatory requirements and reducing the regional inspector workload to review applications that meet regulatory requirements. (NOTE: Until regulatory changes are formally incorporated into the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs), UAV operators will require SFOCs to operate a UAV.)

Phase 1 Recommendations

For Phase 1, the UAV Working Group was divided into three sub-groups to ensure that all parts of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) would be addressed. The following summarizes the results of the Phase 1 deliberations for each part of the CARs, indicating where proposed changes were considered necessary:

Part I – General Provisions

  • Definitions were updated to reflect the absence of a pilot in the aircraft and some new definitions were introduced for items such as control stations, command and control links, safe flight-termination system, sense and avoid, etc.
  • Adopted the terms Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) and Remotely-Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) for use in lieu of unmanned air vehicle (UAV). These terms have been adopted by ICAO and are a better description of the system.
  • Introduced the notion of a low energy RPA as an aircraft of limited size and mass such that it would be incapable of causing serious injury if it were to collide with a person. RPAs in this category would be regulated in a manner similar to model aircraft.

Part II – Aircraft Identification and Registration

  • RPAs are to be treated as closely as possible to manned aircraft. Changes were proposed to the regulations governing identification and marking of aircraft to reflect the small size of some RPAs and the need for suitable marking sizes and methods.

Part IV – Personnel Licensing and Training

It was determined that all RPAS pilots should be licensed by TC. As there are no internationally approved RPAS pilot licensing standards and in keeping with the Phase 1 mandate, a Pilot Permit – Small RPAS Restricted to VLOS should be issued. The following requirements would have to be met to be issued a Pilot Permit:

  • Minimum age – 18;
  • Complete a pilot ground school course in specific knowledge areas and pass a specially developed TC written exam;
  • Acquire practical training on small RPAS and system-specific training; and
  • Demonstrate competency to perform normal and emergency procedures appropriate to the particular type of RPAS.

Part V – Airworthiness

RPAS owners should conform to existing aircraft reporting regulations;

Creation of a new Subpart 5xx – Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Systems to include all RPAS related airworthiness standards. This includes the requirements to be met to achieve an acceptable small RPAS type design and addresses such areas as:

  • Flight (Performance);
  • RPA Structure;
  • Design and Construction;
  • Propulsion System;
  • Systems and Equipment (includes RPAS Control, Sense and Avoid, and Launch and Recovery Systems); and Manuals and Documentation;
  • Small RPAS (25kg or less) would not be required to have “approved” or “certified” type designs, but would require a self-declared “Manufacturer’s Statement of Compliance” attesting that the type design of the RPAS complies with applicable airworthiness standards and that the specific RPAS is in conformity with its type design;
  • The Manufacturer’s Statement of Compliance would be sufficient for TC to issue a “Special Certificate of Airworthiness – RPAS”; and
  • The owner/operator is responsible for all maintenance associated with small RPAS. Maintenance should only be performed by a person with relevant training and experience on the specific RPAS.

Part VI – General Operating and Flight Rules

  • In general, the rules were reviewed to ascertain their application to small RPAS and provide modifications to wording or exceptions as appropriate. These areas dealt primarily with rules regarding persons on-board the aircraft, operational and emergency equipment on-board the aircraft, etc; and
  • Collision avoidance is to be performed by the RPAS pilot or observer(s) as these regulations only apply to operations within visual line-of-sight (VLOS). Collision avoidance methods for operations beyond visual line-of-sight will be addressed in the next phase of regulation development.

Part VII – Commercial Air Services

  • RPAS are to be excluded from Part VII and a new Part is being created specifically for RPAS operations. For small RPAS this new Part would include:
      • Introduction of an RPAS Operator Certificate and provides the general requirements for RPAS operations based on current regulations and standards in Part VII, Subpart 2;
      • Allows for limited RPAS operations to be conducted through a simple notification to TC prior to commencing flight operations. These operations must conform to a strict set of guidelines and limitations but would not require an explicit reply from TC

Next Steps

SFOC Staff Instructions

With the concurrence of TC, Unmanned Systems Canada has assembled a Working Group from its membership to review the existing SFOC Staff Instructions as they apply to UAVs and make recommendations to reflect the regulatory changes referred to above. It is the intent of this group to produce new Staff Instructions for TC review and acceptance by the end of 2012. It is the hope and expectation that the additional standards and guidance will greatly ease the workload on TC regional inspectors for SFOC applicants who can demonstrate and certify that they meet the requirements of the new proposed regulations. It is hoped that a proforma approach may be adopted.

Pilot Permit/Licence

TC has indicated that they do not have the resources at this time to define the RPAS pilot ground school course requirements in specific knowledge areas and to provide a TC-developed written exam. Unmanned Systems Canada is considering the options for an industry-developed standard and exam to fill the void. Further discussions will be required with TC if they are to issue RPAS Pilot Permits.

RPAS Registration

Unmanned Systems Canada has begun a dialogue with TC on the feasibility of introducing a voluntary RPAS registration program. The intent of such a program would be to highlight the number of RPAS operators, capture statistics on acceptable type design RPAS and general RPAS operations.

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