Risk Management

Risk Management Advisories

Unmanned Air Vehicle System (UAVS) – Drones

The use of Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems (UAVS) commonly referred to as “drones” falls under Transport Canada regulations. It is the responsibility of every operator to ensure that use or operation of a UAVS is in accordance with all applicable federal, provincial or municipal laws governing its use or operation, including but not limited to statutes, regulations, by-laws, ordinances, safety guidelines and Transport Canada Advisory Circulars.

Under Section 602.41 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations it states:

No person shall operate an unmanned air vehicle in flight except in accordance with a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) or an air operator certificate.

Presently, Transport Canada has an exemption to 602.41. If the UAVS has a take-off weight of 2 kg or less and the UAVS is operated in accordance with all relevant safety conditions set by Transport Canada then the operator is not required to obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). The following link refers to Transport Canada exemption criteria and safety conditions:


If the UAVS cannot be used or operated in accordance with Transport Canada’s safety conditions then the exemption does not apply and the operator requires a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). The purpose of submitting an SFOC application is to prove to Transport Canada that the operator is not putting the public in danger nor disrupting air traffic. There is no cost involved in applying for and obtaining a SFOC.

The following link explains the application process for a Special Flight Operations Certificate:


Should your school board choose to use or operate a UAVS as part of an educational program or maintenance/inspection activity, coverage is provided under the OSBIE Liability Policy, Endorsement No. 8, for UAVS up to 2 kg in total weight, subject to policy conditions and exclusions.

The following Risk Management recommendations, in addition to the applicable Transport Canada regulations, are provided to assist with the safe use or operation of unmanned air vehicle systems up to 2 kg in total weight.

  1. Training
    • • Follow manufacturer’s operating instructions.
    • • Operators should be trained through a manufacturer’s training program (if available).
  2. Safety Management Protocols
    • • UAVS must be operated within a visual line of sight. Visual contact including its location, and ability to see and avoid other air traffic or objects should be sufficient to be able to maintain control of the UAVS.
    • • Only one UAVS should be operated at any one time.
    • • UAVS should only be operated during daylight hours.
    • • A UAVS should not be operated over an open-air assembly of persons (see Operating Environment Section).
    • • Any UAVS operation should cease if at any time the safety of other airspace users or persons or property on the ground is in danger.
    • • Operators should be school board employees who are over 18 years of age or students at least 16 years of age and under the direct supervision of a teacher as part of an educational program.
  3. UAVS Maintenance and Inspection
    • • Operators should conduct a visual inspection to ensure that the UAVS is safe to fly. A safety checklist is recommended- see manufacturer’s recommendations.
  4. Operating Environment
    • • If operating off board property the board needs to obtain permission from the owner(s) of the property on which a UAVS intends to take-off/launch from and/or land/recover on.
    • • Prior to commencing operations, perform a site survey to assess the suitability of each location and confirm that safe operations can be conducted.
    • • UAVS can only be operated at least five 9.26 kilometres (five nautical miles) from a built-up area.
    • • A UAVS should only be operated at or below 91.44 metres (300 feet).
    • • A UAVS should not be operated within 9.26 kilometers (five miles) of any airport.
    • • A UAVS should not be operated within 30.48 metres (100 feet) of any building, structure, vehicle, vessel, animal or person.
    • • A UAVS should only be operated in clear, calm weather conditions.
  5. Privacy
    • • Operate UAVS in a manner that respects the privacy of individuals at all times.
    • • Check local noise and nuisance by-laws.
  6. Contractors

    In addition to the standard contractual requirements boards request from general contractors, if the third party contractor being hired will be using a UAVS to perform their duties, the board should also request the contractor provide the following documentation:

    • • Certificate of insurance providing proof that the contractor’s has valid liability insurance to operate UAVS while performing their duties.
    • • A copy of the Special Flight Operations Certificate which Transport Canada requires them to carry.

(E & OE July 2016)
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