There are many recreational drone flyers who are operating illegally, and without required permits and insurance, in rural areas and across Canada today. They are filming events, flying over towns and concerts and doing other filming that is strictly prohibited by Transport Canada. Worse, businesses are hiring or giving the OK to these flights without understanding the serious liability risk they are putting on their business.

It is critical to understand that, under Transport Canada drone regulations, flying a drone for fun but still using that footage for commercial purposes is illegal. That means a business or organization that is using that footage has now also entered the realm of commercial use and is putting itself at substantial liability risk. 

WorkCabin Creative offers commercial UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) filming and photography that complies with all Transport Canada rules for commercial drone use, including holding a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for each commercial flight as required by law in Canada.

Here are some tips from the Canadian UAV Alliance for making sure you are hiring a legal commercial drone pilot and not putting your business at serious liability risk by hiring a cowboy operator:

Drone Insurance
Along with the SFOC is the requirement for UAV aviation specific liability insurance.  Make sure the provider has the proper insurance in place (general liability coverage is not sufficient) and that the amount covers your particular needs and policies.

It should be a warning sign if an operator has no insurance (which is mandatory for the SFOC) or has only the minimum ($100,000).  UAVs are complex systems and failures do occur making insurance not only mandatory but a smart item to have in place.

Flight Crew & Roles
Under most circumstances a typical drone aerial crew is composed of 2-3 members.  For most uses Transport Canada requires a minimum of 2 people – pilot and observer/spotter.

Many providers getting into the industry have little to no previous business or consulting experience, and this can potentially impact how they deliver on your project and handle issues that might arise.  Their experience in dealing with the regulations, insurance, safety and other elements may be impacted by general lack of knowledge in the day to day running and managing of a business.

Safety & Operating Procedures
Due to the nature of aerial drone work, safety is a critical element of any operation.  How a provider plans and manages is of critical importance.  This is also a core part of the SFOC, documenting all operating and emergency processes and procedures.

Restrictions & Limitations
While drones offer an incredoble new way to get aerial imagery, there are restrictions and limitations on when/where/how they can be used.  The most common are:

  • Cannot fly over crowds of people or public Ex: an outdoor event/concert.
  • Must maintain a distance of 100′ from any people, vehicles, buildings not part of the operation.
  • Cannot fly over private property without permission of the owners.
  • Typically restricted to a height of 400′ or less.

If an operator makes no mention of these or has no hesitation to break them then it may be a sign of a cowboy operator that should be avoided

Drone reporting hotline
If you see a drone fly overhead at a public event or see a drone fly over your home, cottage or property and are uncertain whether the operator has a Special Flight Operations Certifcate (SFOC), you can now use Transport Canada’s online reporting form to report it