Will The SFOC Go Away?

On January 9th, 2019, Transport Canada announced new RPAS (drone) regulations that will be coming into effect on June 1st, 2019. These new regulations shake up the way both enthusiasts and professionals can legally fly their RPAS’s in Canada. In an effort to educate the RPAS community, we’re supplementing our training programs offered throughout Canada with a series of in-depth blog posts that cover everything you’ll need to know about the upcoming changes.

With the old SFOC (Special Flights Operations Certificate) system being revamped in favour of the new Basic and Advanced Operations certificates, most pilots will no longer have to go through the process of applying for an SFOC before they can take off. However, some pilots with special circumstances will still have to go through the old SFOC system. Read on to find out if you’ll need to fill out an SFOC application for your next flight.

The New SFOC

Special Flight Operations Certificates were originally issued by Transport Canada in order for pilots to fly a remote aircraft for commercial purposes in controlled airspace.    For most applications the Advanced Operations Permit (June 1st) will replace what we know as the SFOC.

After June 1st, if you need to operate your RPAS outside of the new rules established for all pilots, you’ll have to apply for an SFOC.  Wondering what these rules are? We’ve outlined them below.

– You want to fly beyond the restrictions imposed by Basic and Advanced Operations.

  • Advertised Event
  • Your RPAS weights over 25 kilograms (55 pounds).
  • Above 122m (400ft)

– You are NOT a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a corporation established legally under Canadian laws.


The Application Process

Once you have familiarized yourself with the Special Flight Operations Certificate you need t make sure you have 3 things:

  • Pilot knowledge requirements (1 of the following)
    • UAV Ground School
    • Pilots Licence (PPL/CPL)
    • Aviation Degree
  • RPAS liability insurance
  • Restricted Operators Certificate – Aeronautical (ROC-A)
  • Your Aircraft

You are now ready to tackle your written application and submit the application form.

Your application should include:

  • Company information
  • Applicant Information
  • Pilot Information & Credentials
  • Aircraft(s) Information
  • Insurance (Liability)
  • Site Survey
  • Security Plan
  • Mission/Flight Plan
  • Safety/emergency procedures
  • Operations procedures

Once you have completed these documents, you will need to send it to the closest Civil Aviation regional office to your flight location. Depending on how busy the season is, having this application reviewed approval takes a minimum of 21 days for each flight, date and location, so plan accordingly.

Previously with multiple site-specific SFOC’s you can apply for a standing/blanket SFOC allowing you to fly at a moments notice.   It is still to be seen if stadning SFOCs will be awarded after Jjune 1st 2019.

We’re Here To Support You

As RPAS enthusiasts, we understand that this young industry can present challenges to those wanting to get in the air as soon as possible. If you have any questions or concerns about how these new RPAS regulations may affect you come June 1st, please reach out to us via our contact page – we’d love to help you take off. Happy flying!

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