RPAS Drone Training

The new regulations are out. Read the latest info!

Regulations Summary (June 1st, 2019)

  • A “Drone” is now a “Remotely Piloted Aircraft System” (RPAS).
  • RPAS less than 250 g are not regulated at all and those over 25 kg require a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).
  • There is no longer any distinction between commercial and recreational flying. The distinction is now between “Basic” and “Advanced” operations.

Basic Operations

  • Basic operations are confined to uncontrolled (Class G) airspace, 100 feet or more from persons not involved, 400 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) or below, 3 nm or more away from an airport, 1 nm or more from an heliport and 3 nm or more from a DND aerodrome.
  • Basic operations can use any drone.
  • Pilots require a Basic Pilot Certificate
    • On-line exam – 35 questions, 65% pass threshold

Advanced Operations

  • Advanced operations are allowed in controlled airspace, near or over people, higher than 400 ft AGL (with ATC clearance), close to airports and heliports but 3 nm or more away from DND aerodromes.
  • Advanced operations require an RPAS with some level of Safety Assurance.
  • Advanced operations require an Advanced Pilot Certificate
    • On-line exam – 50 questions, 80% pass threshold.
    • In-person Flight Review to demonstrate operational knowledge and flying skills.

Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC)

An SFOC is now only required in the following circumstances:

  • At advertised public gatherings, festivals, etc.
  • RPAS over 25 kg.
  • Within 3 nm of a DND aerodrome.
  • Higher than 400 ft AGL in uncontrolled airspace.
  • Beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).
  • One pilot operating more than 5 drones at one time.
  • An RPAS carrying hazardous payloads.
  • Foreign operators


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Ground School

While Ground School is no longer required, it is strongly recommended

The pilot training covers:

  • airspace classification and structure
  • weather and notice to airmen (NOTAM) reporting services
  • aeronautical charts and the Canada Flight Supplement
  • relevant sections of the Canadian Aviation Regulations

The training required for operations under the authority of an SFOC is more specific to the type of the operation and the characteristics of the RPAS. We would be pleased to review your situation and recommend a course to fit both the stated requirements and the intent of the TC regulations.

Flight Training

If desired, a day of flight training is available using your RPAS for initial training that is 100% applicable to your specific needs. Covers all aspects of operations including flight planning, pre-flight inspection, checklists, takeoffs, landings and basic manoeuvers.

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Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC)

If you need an SFOC, our training is required. More information is available on the Transport Canada website.


Aero-Photos.ca training programs have been developed by our President and Chief Pilot, Mike Venables. Mike has held a Commercial Pilot License for over 40 years with multi-engine land and sea ratings and an instrument endorsement. He was a glider instructor for a number of years and ran ground schools for more than one Flight Training Unit.

Mike graduated with a degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering and has worked as an experimental test engineer for aircraft power plants (Pratt and Whitney Canada), an aircraft design engineer (Canadair/Bombardier Aerospace), a flight training simulator project engineer (CAE Electronics), a space systems training analyst (Canadian Space Agency) and an avionics product marketing manager (CMC Electronics).

The syllabus for all our courses is based on the outline defined in Transport Canada’s document “TP 15263 – Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems”. There are, of course, many other aeronautical training references used to round out the material.

Training Delivery

Training for RPAS operations is carried out in-person in a traditional classroom environment with small groups. This allows for the most efficient knowledge transfer. In addition, students benefit from the classroom environment as a question asked by one student helps all students.

Aero-Photos.ca has developed a series of exams to verify that the learning objectives have been met. A certificate will be issued to each student upon successful completion.

Radio Operators Certificate – Aeronautical

It can be helpful during RPAS operations for the pilot to have a radio operators certificate. We can provide the training (if required) and the examination to issue the Industry Canada ROC-A that will allow the UAV pilot to communicate with other aircraft and Air Traffic Control (ATC) units.


While no longer required, commercial RPAS operators should carry third party liability insurance. This is readily available from a number of sources relatively inexpensively.

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