Did Transport Canada Just Ground the Canadian Hobbyist Drone Market?

Transport Canada just put in force an order regarding the recreational use of model aircraft, enforceable by a $3,000 fine. Details are in the graphic below and on the Transport Canada Web site.

Operation of a drone over 35 kg, or for commercial use, has not changed, and still requires a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

Restrictions on flying near airports and aircraft are understandable.

But you can’t operate a model aircraft “at a lateral distance of less than 250 feet (75m) from buildings, structures, vehicles, vessels, animals and the public including spectators, bystanders or any person not associated with the operation of the aircraft”.

If we think about that, it leaves almost nowhere to fly. You can’t fly it with a friend within 250 feet – unless somehow the friend is “associated with the operation of the aircraft”. And what is meant by not operating within 250 feet of animals? If you are in a remote area away from buildings and vehicles, there is likely to be some kind of animal nearby.

Given how restrictive these rules are, not many people will want to own one, and those who already own one may have trouble finding a place to fly it.

The Drone Manufacturers Alliance “believes new drone regulations announced today by Transport Canada will provide only a negligible increase in safety while sharply curtailing the ability of Canadians to explore, photograph their country, and teach their children about science and technology.”

They also said “The Drone Manufacturers Alliance expects all our members’ customers to fly safely and responsibly, and our years of experience show that technology and education provide a better solution than a hastily-written ban.

Aviation authorities around the world have never recorded a single confirmed collision between a civilian drone and a traditional aircraft. Indeed, many initial drone sightings reported by aircraft pilots have turned out to be birds, balloons or even a plastic bag.”

The only realistic drone to purchase now in Canada are those that weigh 250 grams (0.55 pounds) or less, which are exempt from the rules. Drones that small may not be as capable as larger ones, but they do exist.



  1. Much of the regulation is ill thought out, from the areas where drones are banned to the weight limit.

    The aerodrome limitation is overbroad as it covers far too much area in most urban centres. For example, using Google maps as a rough measuring tool, most of Winnipeg would be un-flyable because of Winnipeg Airport in the west end, a small air ambulance HQ Heli-port near downtown and a small private airfield near the southeast edge of the city. And it’s just not the city that is affected. Flying in Birds Hill park, a very popular provincial park that is approx. 9km NE from Winnipeg would also be no go as there is as small public airfield 8 km to the west of the park.

    As for the 75m people, building etc ban, this means you could not launch your drone in most residential areas unless you are using a large parking lot or park that can be as there’s no other way you could be 75m away from houses and vehicles.

    Finally, the weight limit would mean a $40 drone that is marketed as a child’s toy and would struggle to fly at 75m would be subject to the regulations.

  2. The real problem with the regulations is they effectively kill all model aircraft hobbies which have a long safety record – gliders, slope soaring, park fliers, amphibious aircraft and more are now illegal.

    It is clear these rules do not consider how they affect the general public and are written for industry. I am attempting a public petition to the house of commons to have our hobbies considered in the regulations.


  3. This link (https://www.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/solutions/collaborative/civuas/uav_site_selection_tool.html ) is to an NRC map that shows the no-fly zones around “aerodromes”. One caveat is that I believe the smaller circles around heliports is now wrong with the new rules, and should be the larger 9 km circles.

    When you factor in things like hospital heliports, and small runways that most people don’t know even exist, airport no fly zones cover huge amounts of area. They look to cover about 1/2 of Southern Ontario, for example.

  4. This is a crazy law! its a knee-jerk reaction to public concern, but it does not address the issues or even offer a solution! If they get away with it this time, it will continue with other technologies in the future. Its just as much of an attack on drones as it is to innovation itself!

  5. I am a model aircraft enthusiasts and a member of MAAC and a local club. I understand we need some limitations on flying as just yesterday some idiot was flying a large drone for the second reported time in the flight path at our international airport and police are still looking for him. It is unfortunate that morons like that fellow give a bad name to the majority of responsible law abiding hobbyists like myself. While I think there should be limitations i think the current imposed limitations have not really been thought through and are excessive. Afterall more people are killed and property damaged each year as the result of alcohol or speeding and that’s hard enough to enforce. I don’t think calling 911 about some teen flying a drone in a open park is a good use of resources.

  6. I have been in this hobby for almost 30 years and still cannot believe that we all must now be punished because someone did something stupid.When did society start punishing the entire group for an act that was committed by a single person. Is it easier than trying to find the individual responsible and make them and them alone answer for their lawlessness and carelessness. Our group of modelers is 99.99 % made up of people who are very careful and very respectful of others.We have to be that way in order to take the time to build our models.It takes a great deal of patience to assemble our models to install the engines ,electronics,control surfaces and then after all that hard work we risk it all by taking it outside and flying it.So we have to be very very careful or we risk losing something we have put a lot of time and money into.We are never going to do anything to risk our model ourselves or anyone else because doing so would ruin the entire hobby.The .001% who don’t go thru this or who just don’t have any respect for anyone in the first place are dangerous and should by all means be apprehended and punished for their actions.But for those of us who have been flying for years and years in what was a safe and fun hobby have been grouped together with the few and we are all being punished for their actions.I find this reaction by the government to be barbaric,unjust,cruel,and just plain idiotic .I live in rural Canada so rural in fact that I can’t even get high speed internet .To the Major ISP I was just to far away to be of any concern but yet I can now no longer fly in my own yard on my own property outside my own house because it’s considered to be too dangerous and public safety must come first.There aren’t many people here but there is lots of wildlife .A free and democratic society does not punish it’s people this way only a tyranny run by dictators uses measures like these.Don’t try to color up what has taken place here in Canada.Large groups of innocent people being so heavily restricted as to cease flying cannot be allowed to take place.If we allow this action by transport Canada to continue then this Country is headed down a very dangerous road where more groups will lose more rights because some individual broke the rules.And one last point why isn’t transport Canada concentrating on where actual deaths are occurring in the skies on the highways or the oceans instead of attacking modelers who have nothing but safety bread into them . We are already safe leave us alone.