Remote-controlled aerial systems fall under different rules and regulations depending on where they are to be operated, and for what purpose. These systems are often classified as either UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), or UASs (Unmanned Aerial Systems).
There are two ways to fly a drone or UAV in Canada for commercial purposes. The first is to operate under an SFOC (Special Flight Operating Certificate), which must be obtained from Transport Canada. TC has divided the country into five different regions: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairies and the North, and the Pacific - each with its own regional representative who handles the SFOC applications. Therefore, which regional office a submission is made to depends completely on where in Canada the filming is to take place. If a film shoot is spread throughout the country, an SFOC must be acquired in each regional office independently. We are proud to say that we at SkyMotion Video do hold SFOC permits for every region in the country. This allows us to offer much quicker processing turnarounds of about 48 hours, as opposed to 20 business days needed by those operators without a blanket permit.
The second way to operate a drone or UAV for commercial purposes is under the two “exemptions” recently approved and published by Transport Canada. Details regarding these exemptions can be found here: Transport Canada - Flying an Unmanned Aircraft
Why have an SFOC? With an SFOC, we can operate quicker. Operating under the exemptions, still requires location and flight plan details to be sent in writing to Transport Canada before the operation. Also, if a change is made to the flight plan, the operator is required to notify the Minister within 10 working days. Lastly, while operations taking place under the exemption are limited to class 'G' airspace, with an SFOC we can operate in controlled airspace and within built-up areas.
While all of this allows us to work more efficiently for our clients, it does still come with a few conditions which must be met.
This is not to say that a night time flight is impossible. It is simply not covered under the blanket SFOC permits. If your project has special needs outside these parameters, additional permitting would need to be applied for with Transport Canada.
For more information on regulations and SFOCs, please visit Transport Canada’s Advisory Circular (AC) No. 600-002
Currently we do not operate our aerial systems within the USA due to the FAA's current total ban on the use of UAVs for commercial applications. Plans are in place to hopefully create regulations sometime in 2015. We are still available for terrestrial shooting using the MOVI camera gimbal.
Regulations are coming into place around the world. Certain countries only requires basic filming permits, while others have rigid regulations and licensing already set in place. Before considering the use of a UAV or UAS in a specific country, a check should be made with the authorities in the region to see if any regulations or standard operating procedures have been established.