In a next step to deal with the burgeoning Canadian use of unmanned air vehicle (UAV) systems for commercial purposes, Transport Canada has released a document outlining the knowledge requirements for pilots of UAVs. The document is focused on small, remotely-operated, commercial UAVs of 25 kilograms or less, which will be operated within visual line of sight (VLOS). Transport Canada is expecting operators and organizations to create curriculum and provide ground school courses for UAV pilots, based on these knowledge requirements.
The UAV Knowledge Requirement covers a wide range of Canadian Air Regulations (CARs). Many of the requirements are familiar to licensed pilots, including Air Law, Navigation, Meteorology, General Knowledge and Radiotelephony. Each area includes sample learning objectives, with examples related to UAV operations. The document is expected to be made available on the “Study and Reference Guides
” section of the Transport Canada website.
In order to fly a commercial UAV, operators in Canada must apply to Transport Canada for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). Much like a flight plan for a conventional aircraft, the SFOC includes all the information relating to the intended use of the UAV. Currently, an industry-and-government working group has created “Best Practices” for UAV operations, which provides guidance for TC Inspectors and SFOC applicants. This new document addresses one of the three best practice areas, that of pilot knowledge. The other two areas are UAV system design standards and operator requirements. SFOC application approvals may be granted more quickly if the pilot has passed an approved UAV course, as proof of knowledge.
In future CARs, Transport Canada is planning to specify regulations and standards for the issuance of a pilot permit that is specific to small UAV systems, and restricted to VLOS operation. As with other licences, applicants will have to complete a training course and write an exam, with a 60 per cent passing grade.