Unmanned Aerial Vehicles: Commercial Drone Operations and the Law
With the rapid pace of development in the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) sector and the consequent commercial opportunities that follow, entrepreneurs in this emerging industry stand to be among the next generation of great commercial innovators. Already UAVs, more commonly referred to as drones, are being put to work in an assortment of sectors including forestry, oil and gas development, mineral exploration and even film production. In some cases, drones stand to offer significant cost savings to businesses due to the fractional operational costs compared with alternatives such as helicopters. For example, before deploying helicopters at a high cost, firms may utilize UAVs to conduct preliminary explorations for mineral deposits.
Despite the immense commercial opportunities that drones present, they also pose certain risks to civil aviation and safety. For this reason regulators have proceeded carefully in promulgating laws concerning commercial UAV operations. In Canada, the primary regulatory body overseeing the safe deployment of commercial UAVs is Transport Canada. Presently, Transport Canada has issued two standing ministerial exemptions concerning commercial UAV operations, the conditions of which can be found here for UAVs weighing 2 kilograms or under and here for UAVs exceeding 2 kilograms but not exceeding 25 kilograms.
For over a decade YYZlaw has assisted airlines and tour operators navigate the regulatory waters of civil aviation in Canada. Our experience in overseeing regulatory approvals is unparalleled and we have acted for the majority of the world’s largest airlines. Our firm offers the unique ability to both represent our clients’ legal interests as well as being able to offer commercial insights thanks to our many years of involvement with the aviation industry. We regularly advise clients on matters of insurance, ownership, and operating procedures which must be satisfied before a regulator issues licenses allowing for commercial services. With respect to drones, our extensive understanding of the regulatory process, including the working structure of Transport Canada, allows us to efficiently represent the interests of our clients pursuing commercial UAV operations and associated licenses. Our services include:
- Consulting and legal services for start-up commercial drone operations
- Developing and submitting applications for Special Flight Operating Certificates (SFOCs) to Transport Canada (TC), including assistance with SFOC risk assessments and analysis.
- Transactional services involving UAVs including review of purchase, lease or finance agreements