I have seen a lot of information online lately saying that training is not at all necessary to fly UAVs (Drones) in Canada. For the most part this is actually true, you don’t need training.
So why is the top UAV school in Canada saying this? Because the majority of people that are flying are flying for fun. If you are flying for fun you don’t need training. You can certainly learn on your own and from the amazing modern resources like Youtube. If you are flying for fun we still recommend getting some formal knowledge on how to determine where you can fly and get the essential information you need to know about the rules and how to make sense of them.
I am not just flying for the pleasure of it
If you are planning on flying for ANY reason other than for the pleasure of flying then you are flying commercially and you absolutely do need training. You cannot fly without it any more, it is actually illegal. Besides being illegal there are several other reasons that everyone should get Transport Canada TP 15263 compliant UAV ground school.
- It is required! You cannot fly under the Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) without this training. This is as of around mid-September 2017.
- It is going to give you the knowledge requirements that you need to fly under the UAV Exemptions
- You will learn where you can fly and where you cannot. This is actually a great relief to a lot of people, it gives significant peace of mind.
- You will learn the rules and how not to break them. You want to avoid that $5,000 to $25,000 fine for each time you break the rules.
- You will learn about the airspace that you are flying in and how to coordinate with the people that control that airspace and how to avoid conflict with air traffic
- If you have customers, you are going to look a lot more professional if you have been through a good ground school that taught you proper mission planning and operations.
- More sophisticated and knowledgeable coworkers and customers are going to ask to see your SFOC, you aren’t getting it without training.
So what training do I need to be legal?
You need to get training from a company that is on the list of Transport Canada TP 15263 compliant training providers as this is the only training that will be recognized. Of course Aerobotika was one of the first on this list and all of our UAV ground schools meet this standard.
Do I only need UAV ground school?
Sure, that’s all you need to meet the requirements right now. Of course, the more training and experience you have the better you will be.
Most who offer UAV ground school will also offer flight training. Look for flight training that includes both flight skills and thorough “Type” training. Type training teaches you all about the particular system that you are training on. This is more and more critical these days as the apps and aircraft include incredible and sometimes very complex features and flight modes.
How do I choose a UAV ground school?
Choosing from the dozens of options is tough at times. Like any purchase, especially one that can have this much of an effect on your success, you need to be careful about who you trust. In my role at Unmanned Systems Canada and from speaking to clients and potential clients of Aerobotika I am regularly shocked and saddened at the level of knowledge that some pilots have when we speak to them soon after they take their ground school with some organizations.
Here is some advice to help you make the right decision:
- See if they are on Transport Canada’s list of compliant training providers, like Aerobotika is (RDIMS-#1148700)
- Look at the company’s history. How long have they been training? How long have they been involved in unmanned or manned aviation?
- Look at reviews or talk to their clientele. From the reviews of the company you can figure out how good their content is and how well they teach.
- Call the company and talk to them. Often after a quick conversation you will know pretty quickly if they are right for you and if they are as knowledgeable as you need.
- Don’t choose based on geography. If you do, you might be loosing out on the better training and could be led astray.
- Is the format right for you? Are you the type that can absorb information by looking at a slide deck and reading the notes on your own or do you learn better in an interactive and inclusive classroom environment? I know that it will take me 6 months to do a 20 hour course online and I won’t absorb a lot of it. Instructor led training is more expensive, but it can be far more effective.
- How qualified is your instructor? At Aerobotika we only hire instructors with their CPL (Commercial Pilot License) or ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot License) and their insturctor rating and have planned and run commercial UAV missions. This is because of the complexities or airspace, air law, and the general operations of aviation. This is critical to us so that we can properly prepare you to coexist with other aviation traffic and because the people you want to please, Transport Canada, have the same qualifications.