Buying a drone can be a great experience, but also one that can lead to confusion if you’re buying your first one. If you look online for information about drone laws in Alberta you’re going to get a ton of different answers from different sites and forums. That’s why I decided to write the article on drone laws in Alberta.
Summary of The Drone Laws in Alberta
- A special license is not required for drones in Alberta, but a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) and/or Drone Pilot Certificate is needed for commercial use.
- Drones must weigh less than 35 kilograms.
- Drones may only be operated during daylight hours and should not fly higher than 90 metres above the ground.
- The drone operator is responsible for the flight and must exercise caution and good judgment at all times.
- Drones are not allowed to fly in controlled airspace, near emergency response work sites, or near other aircraft.
Drone Laws In Alberta
Special License Is Not Required
That said, if you’d like to fly a drone commercially, that is, in an occupation or employment-related capacity, Transport Canada requires you to obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) and/or Drone Pilot Certificate depending on your situation.
The SFOC is similar to a permit. It’s good for one flight operation and allows you to fly in situations where the basic rules don’t apply. A Drone Pilot Certificate authorizes commercial flight operations within certain conditions and parameters. Obtaining either of these certificates does not require testing or a background check.
Your Drone Must Weigh Less Than 35 Kilograms
The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR) define a drone as any aircraft that is operated without a pilot on board. The rules in this section apply to drones of all sizes. However, if your drone weighs more than 35 kilograms and you don’t have a special permit, you can’t operate it at all.
Fly Your Drone During Daylight Hours
You may only operate your drone during daylight hours. As the operator, it is important that you are able to see your drone and keep it in sight at all times.
If you fly your drone in twilight or bad weather, be sure to equip it with anti-collision lights and reflective material so that other users of airspace can see the drone easily.
Flying begins 30 minutes after sunrise and ends 30 minutes before sunset. You cannot fly a drone in darkness or poor visibility; however, if you’re using a model aircraft smaller than 35 kg with an electric motor powered by batteries or liquid fuel that has no more than two motors, you can fly at night if your model aircraft is equipped with anti-collision lights.
Can’t Fly Your Drone More Than 90 Metres High
- You can’t fly higher than 90 metres (300 feet) above the ground.
- You have to keep your drone in your sight at all times while flying.
- You can’t operate a drone where it would interfere with aircraft, such as over an airport or near an airplane landing area. If you’re unsure whether you can fly your drone in a certain area, have if approved by Transport Canada first.
- You can’t operate a drone over highways, bridges, power plants or other critical infrastructure.
- You are responsible for finding out about temporary flight restrictions and not flying in these areas.
- Never operate a drone under the influence of drugs or alcohol!
The Drone Operator Is Responsible For Its Flight
How to be a responsible drone operator:
- Be in control of your drone at all times. The Drone Operator Is Responsible For Its Flight.
- Always fly with due care and attention. Exercise caution and good judgment, especially when the drone is near other aircraft, vehicles, buildings or people.
- Do not fly near other aircraft. If you see an aircraft, stop flying your drone immediately to avoid interfering with air traffic and causing a collision. The pilot of the other aircraft may take evasive action that could result in severe injury or death to persons on the ground or property damage.
- Keep your drone away from people and built up areas. A loss of control can result in significant injuries to people on the ground or damage someone’s private property if it crashes into it.
Follow The Basic Rules Of Aviation
When operating your drone, you need to follow the basic rules of aviation if it’s flying in airspace where manned aircraft operate.
The basic rules of aviation are simple:
- do not fly an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) that could cause injury or damage to people or property on the ground
- avoid flying your UAV near aerial vehicles and at heights that may create a collision hazard
Not Allowed To Fly In Controlled Airspace
You can’t fly your drone in controlled airspace, or over controlled aerodromes without permission from the air traffic control unit that controls that airspace.
Controlled airspace is in the vicinity of airports and other places where there are a lot of aircraft using the same airspace at the same time. The Transportation Safety Board recently released an interactive map that shows where these areas are.
You can also check out Nav Canada’s website for more information about restricted areas and flight paths. Controlled aerodromes are those with air traffic control towers, such as Calgary International Airport.
Can’t Fly Over Or Near Emergency Response Work Sites
You can’t fly over or near emergency response work sites such as police or firefighting operations or search and rescue efforts unless you have been given express permission.
- Why: You can easily get in the way of first responders who are trying to do their jobs, which may even put people at risk if you’re preventing first responders from getting the resources they need.
- How: If you want to fly over an emergency response site, talk directly to the person in charge of that site. This person will make sure that your flight won’t be a problem for anyone involved in the operation. If it’s clear that your drone would not be a problem, then this person can give you permission to fly over the site.
Follow These Regulations
If you are flying in a public place, there are some basic regulations that you must follow. You cannot fly your drone at night or anywhere near other aircraft. If your drone weighs more than 35kg, you may not fly it over Alberta unless it is being used for work purposes.
If your drone is under 35kg, you do not need a permit to fly it over Alberta if you are flying within the Visual Line-of-Sight of the pilot and no higher than 400 feet above ground level, unless otherwise specified.
Additionally, if you are flying in controlled airspace (anywhere around an airport) or beyond Visual Line-of-Sight and have a drone that weighs between 250g and 25kg then you will need permission from the appropriate safety authority before operating your drone for non-recreational purposes.
You also must avoid flying over emergency response work sites and give yourself at least 5.6km of clearance when flying near any heliports or aerodromes in Alberta.
How To Register Drone In Alberta
According to Transport Canada’s website, drone operators will be required to provide their names, postal codes and telephone numbers, as well as the addresses of where they keep the drones.
They also must provide the make, model, serial number and description of their drones.
The process of registering your drone is quick and easy, and can be done online or in person.
You will be charged a fee for registering your drone. The fee is currently $5 and the registration number is valid for the life of the drone.
Payment can be made by credit card, debit card, or PayPal account if you are registering online. In-person payment can be made by cash, cheque, money order, Visa, or MasterCard.
A parent or guardian must register their child’s drone if they are under 14 years old.
If you are under 14 years of age, a parent or guardian must register the drone on your behalf. The Canadian Civil Aircraft Register (CCAR) will assign you a registration number and issue a certificate of registration to your parent or guardian. They will be responsible for keeping the certificate up-to-date.
Your parent or guardian will be responsible for renewing your registration every 24 months until you turn 18 years of age. At that time, they can request that ownership and responsibility for the aircraft be transferred to you if it is still registered in their name.
If you are under 18, your parent or guardian is legally responsible for where and how high (including how much above the ground) your drone can fly. This includes situations where adults supervise young people flying drones at an event or on educational premises such as schools, colleges and universities.
Ilegal To Fly A Drone In Alberta If Not Registered
It is illegal to fly a drone in Alberta if it has not been registered with Transport Canada.
Transport Canada is the department of the federal government that manages transportation policy and infrastructure. They are responsible for ensuring that all drones are registered, and that people who fly drones follow the rules.
If you fly an unregistered drone, you can be fined $1,000 under the Aeronautics Act. If you break other laws at the same time (for example, breaking privacy laws), you can be fined more (up to $25,000).
Complete A Form On Transport Canada’s Website
Owners can register their drones by completing a form available through Transport Canada’s website or going through a registry agent. The process is not complicated, but it is necessary in order to avoid penalties.
Drones Weighing More Than 250 Grams
- Drones weighing between 250 grams (0.55 pounds) and 25 kilograms (55 pounds) need to be registered.
- The new law applies to any person who owns a drone in Alberta regardless of where the drone is purchased.
- The law applies to any drone weighing between 250 grams and 25 kilograms that can fly more than 25 meters above ground level.
Register Before Fly
Anyone who owns a drone in Alberta will have to register it before they can fly it legally. Registration went into effect on Nov. 1, 2019 and the cost of registration is $5. The registration requirement applies to anyone who owns any type of drone, but drones must be registered before they can be flown in Canada.
The new rule impacts Canadians who own drones that weigh between 250 grams and 25 kilograms and are used for anything other than for recreation (for example, hobbyists).
Drones that weigh less than 250 grams do not need to be registered in Alberta or anywhere else in Canada. Drone owners must be 14 years or older to register a drone and the name on the application must match the name on the owner’s government-issued ID (in this case a driver’s license).
You need to register your drone with Transport Canada if:
- you meet the requirements above
- you are operating your drone outside of recreational purposes
If you choose not to register your drone, then it cannot be operated legally anywhere in Canada.
Are Drones Allowed In Alberta
You can fly your drones in Alberta, but there are rules to abide by. These rules fall into three categories:
- Urban areas
- Rural areas
- Natural areas
The big rule for all of these is that you can’t fly within 9 kilometers of an airport or airfield. Within urban and rural areas, you also can’t fly a drone higher than 90 meters above ground level. In urban areas, you have to stay 150 meters away from bystanders and structures.
In rural areas, the distance from bystanders and structures is 300 meters. There are also a few specific rules for parks and private property that we’ll get into in more detail below.
Are Drones Allowed On My Property?
The short answer is yes. You are allowed to fly on your own property, as long as you have permission from the owner of the drone. If you don’t own the land, then you have to get permission from the owner before flying.
All drones must be registered with Transport Canada and if you do not register your drone, it will be illegal for you to fly it anywhere in Canada.
The rules for flying drones in Alberta are pretty straightforward. To get started with flying a drone, follow these simple steps:
- Register your drone with Transport Canada (you can do this online).
- Apply for an exemption or a special flight operations certificate (SFOC) and make sure that it has been approved before flying your drone in public areas.
- Make sure that your drone is properly marked and registered before flying it within city limits or over private property where there is no visible evidence of ownership such as a sign or fence line marking the perimeter of someone else’s property line. This includes parks, playgrounds and other open spaces that might contain people who aren’t visible from above (i.e., children playing soccer at their school field). The same rules apply whether they are on public or private land – make sure they know what is going on before taking off into these spaces so everybody stays safe!
What About Privacy Laws?
Canadian privacy laws are a bit more lax, but you still need to be aware of where and when you’re recording other people. In Alberta, the rules for recreational drone use are fairly straightforward: If you’re using a drone on private property with the owner’s consent, you can film what you want.
If you’re using it on public property or someone else’s private property, get permission before filming or take care not to record anyone who isn’t comfortable being filmed. There may also be local ordinances that must be followed; check them out before flying!
What Are The Rules For Flying In An Urban Area?
- If you’re flying in an urban area, you need to be able to see your drone with your own eyes (not using first-person view). This is a requirement of the Transport Canada rules referenced above.
- You must fly at least 5.5km away from aerodromes (any airport, seaplane base, or areas where aircraft take-off and land) and 1.8km away from heliports or aerodromes used exclusively by helicopters.
- Never fly your drone higher than 90 metres above the ground.
- Always keep your drone within 500 metres of yourself and remain within unaided visual line-of-sight of the aircraft at all times. Do not use binoculars or other vision enhancing devices to assist you in keeping the drone in sight as it flies.
- You are responsible for every flight that you make with your drone so don’t lend it out to someone who does not have the knowledge, skill, or ability required to safely operate it if this means that you won’t be able to keep the drone within visual line-of-sight at all times.
What About Wildlife And People In The Area?
You also cannot fly over populated areas, but you can fly in the middle of a lake or a field. If you are flying the drone for fun and not for commercial purposes, it is recommended that you avoid flying in areas where there might be a lot of people; however, if you want to fly your drone while ice fishing on a frozen lake or on an abandoned road, that’s just fine. To protect wildlife from disturbance and harassment, drones cannot be flown within 30 meters of animals.
What About Airports?
The rules around airports are a bit more complicated. So, if you’re at the airport, you can’t fly your drone. If you’re not at the airport, but you’re planning on flying your drone within nine kilometres of one, you need to get clearance from air traffic control before doing so.
You have to call them at least 30 minutes before takeoff (or landing), and there are other strict requirements too. For example, if it’s Canada Day and there is an annual fireworks display scheduled for your area—it might be smart to give them a call just in case your drone travels into their airspace.
What Happens If I Don’t Follow The Rules?
If you don’t follow the rules, you might be subject to a fine or prosecution. You could also lose your drone privileges, which means you’d have to go through the process of getting your pilot certificate again. It’s best to check with Transport Canada so you’re aware of all the latest rules and regulations regarding flying a drone in Alberta.
Frequently Asked Question (drone Laws In Alberta)
What Are The Rules For Flying A Drone In Alberta?
- You must keep your drone in sight at all times. This means it has to be within your line of sight and not obscured by things like trees, buildings or other obstacles.
- You cannot fly over people or animals. If someone is on the ground, do not fly your drone closer than 30 metres away from them unless they give you permission first. And if there are animals nearby (such as livestock), avoid flying directly over them as well.
- There is a set height limit for drones: 120 metres above sea level (or approximately 400 feet).
- You are not allowed to fly within 9 kilometres of an airport without permission from Transport Canada and/or Nav Canada; however, if you have been given permission then the restriction changes depending on whether it’s daytime or nighttime:
- During daylight hours (between sunrise and sunset) stay at least 5 nautical miles away; during nighttime stay at least 4 nautical miles away.
- Similarly there are restrictions around heliports—if one is located within 5½ kilometres then no drone activity is allowed during nighttime hours.
Do I Need A License To Fly My Drone?
You do not need a license to fly your drone. As long as you are able to see it with your own eyes, and control it with your own hands, you shouldn’t have any problems.
There are some rules and regulations that must be followed when flying drones in Alberta:
- You must keep the drone within sight at all times;
- The drone must be less than 35 kilograms; and
- The operator cannot operate more than one unmanned aircraft simultaneously.
Can I Fly My Drone Over Another Person’s Property?
The answer is no, you cannot fly your drone over another person’s property. It is important to remember that when flying a drone, you are trespassing on the land below.
As such, if you do not have consent from the owner of that property or permission from an authorized agent of the owner (such as a security guard), you are liable to be charged with an offence even if they did not grant their consent. This also applies to public places such as parks and schools.
How High Can I Fly My Drone?
- The maximum height you can fly your drone is 90 metres (300 feet) above the ground.
- The maximum distance from you that you can fly your drone is 500 metres (1,500 feet).
- The maximum speed of your drone must be less than 80 km/h (50 mph).
The laws surrounding the use of drones are constantly changing. This is because technology advances much faster than legislation can be created.
Therefore, it is vital for Alberta citizens to stay up to date on drone laws. If you do not know what the drone laws are in your province, you may wind up paying hefty fines or spending time in jail.