Flying a Drone in Canadian Airspace

OK, I have the FAA rules for operating a drone figured out. What about Canada? As I will be voyaging along the Inside Passage this month I intend to fly in Canadian airspace. The scenery of the wild British Columbia coastline is just too fantastic to pass up, particularly from the air.

Flying the Drone
Flying the Mavic Air along the R1 road on the side of Mauna Kea
Yes, again I am writing a blog post so I can research and remember a subject for myself. A good way to study a subject I need to know, in this case it is Canadian drone rules.

Rules for drones in Canada are the responsibility of Transport Canada, the equivalent of the US Federal Aviation Administration. TC maintains a very nice set of web pages covering drone rules and regulations. There is even a nice PDF page that summarizes the rules.

In general Canadian drone rules are much more restrictive than the FAA drone rules. For example the range limits are 90 meters above ground, notably lower than the US 400ft rule. Operation must be at a maximum range of 500m, where the US allows up to visual line-of-sight, potentially several miles.

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Where can you fly a drone in Hawaii?

For a new drone pilot, learning the rules can be a bit daunting.

Hawaiʻi is a state that is incredibly attractive to a drone pilot. The scenery, from reefs and beaches, to the soaring volcanoes, just begs to be flown over and photographed from the air.

Flying the DJI Mavic Air in the saddle at the base of Mauna Kea
Flying the DJI Mavic Air in the saddle at the base of Mauna Kea

I am determined to fly responsibly, that means going through all of the various rules. The rules are not simple! They are a patchwork of regulations from federal, state, and local authorities. How do you make sense of it all?

Below is the results of my research on the subject. More than a few hours of reading state and federal websites. The process of writing this post was in itself a means of educating myself. Hopefully others will find this useful. If you know of anything I have missed, drop me a line to let me know.

This post is focused on the Island of Hawaii, home for me. But much of what is discussed here applies to all of the islands.

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Proposed Legislation

There are quite a few different bills proposed for this session of the Hawaii legislature that address astronomy and Mauna Kea. Of the more interesting there are proposals for an independant manangement body for the mauna, 4WD drive access to Mauna Kea and Waipio valley, addressing light pollution, and an audit of OMKM.

Mauna Kea Sunrise
Sunrise over Mauna Kea greets me on the morning commute.
As some of these proposals have a direct effect on the mauna and upon me personally I intend to address each of these proposals in blog posts. I also intend to submit testimony on these bills, reading and blogging on them will help.

Just added! (12Feb2018)

As usual for the Hawaii legislature there is occasionally both a house and senate version some of the bills. These must be reconciled in the end as they wend through the rather interesting process our state lege uses. Several of these have passed first reading, the first weeding out of bills in the process for this session.