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When Is a Canadian Model Aircraft a UAV?

From January 2015 Bits & Pieces Newsletter

By Ian Brown, Editor – Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159

Transport Canada recently clarified the situation regarding model aircraft and UAVs. You might find that there is a confusing line between the two; after all, isn’t any model aircraft an “unmanned aerial vehicle”? It turns out that the simple definition is that if it’s used for commercial purposes it’s a UAV; whatever the size, and with rare exceptions, if it’s purely for recreational use, it’s a model aircraft.

That means that if you’re a realtor using a little quad copter to take pictures of a house, if you’re a teacher using it in class, or if you’re carrying out an inspection, it’s a UAV and you need a special flight operations certificate (SFOC). Unless it’s over 35 kilograms, if it’s flown for recreational purposes, it’s a model aircraft no matter what the performance. You have to keep your “model aircraft” in line of sight, regardless of whether there is an onboard camera.

The following documents recently have been posted to the Transport Canada Civil Aviation website and will provide a lot more detail:

CAR 600 Series - General Operating and Flight Rules
Title: General Safety Practices—Model Aircraft and Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems
Number: AC 600-002
Issue (Effective Date): 2014-11-27
Link: www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/opssvs/managementservices-referencecentre-acs-600-2135.html

Title: Guidance Material for Operating Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems Under an Exemption
Number: AC 600-004
Issue (Effective Date): 2014-11-27
Link: www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/opssvs/ac-600-004-2136.html

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