Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircrafts

By Robert P. Kinghan
May 1, 2017

Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircrafts – Robert P. Kinghan & Paul Lalonde

The Minister of Transport has recently announced the Federal Government’s new Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircrafts (the “Interim Order”).[1]  The purpose of the Interim Order is to address significant risks of the public’s increased use of recreational drones to aviation safety. The Interim Order contains important new rules that recreational drone pilots should be aware of and should comply with before their next flight. The Interim Order was drafted to work hand-in-hand with the existing Canadian Aviation Regulations but in the event of a conflict between the Interim Order and the Regulations, the Interim Order shall prevail.

The Interim Order’s application is limited to drones having a total weight of more than 250 grams but not more than 35 kilograms.[2] However, the new order does not apply to unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and/or model aircraft operated at events organized by the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) or at airfields located in a zone administered by MAAC or a MAAC club.

Of particular interest to drone pilots is s.5 of the Interim Order which specifically prohibits individuals from operating drones or model aircraft in the following situations:

a)    at an altitude greater than 300 feet above ground level;

b)    at a lateral distance of less than 250 feet (75m) from buildings, structures, vehicles, vessels, animals and the public including spectators, bystanders or any person not associated with the operation of the aircraft;

c)    within 9 km of the centre of an aerodrome;

d)    within controlled airspace;

e)    within restricted airspace;

f)     over or within a forest fire area, or any area that is located within 9 km of a forest fire area;

g)    over or within the security perimeter of a police or first responder emergency operation site;

h)    over or within an open-air assembly of persons;

i)      at night; or

j)      in cloud.

In addition, the Interim Order further prohibits pilots from operating more than one drone at a time.

Moreover, the Interim Order brings new changes with respect to a drone pilot’s visual line-of-sight.[3] The Interim Order provides that all persons operating drones must ensure they are operated within their visual line-of-sight at all times during the flight. Additionally, pilots are prohibited from operating their drones at a lateral distance of more than 1640 feet (500 m) from the pilot’s location. Pilots who have previously relied on camera attachments to operate their drones should be aware that they can now only do so as long as the drone is within 500m of their current position and within their visual line-of-sight, meaning that they must be able to see it with their own eyes at all times.

Finally, the Interim Order also brings new requirements with respect to the pilot’s contact information. The order specifies that all drones must clearly display the owner’s name, address, and telephone number. Owners will not be permitted to operate or allow others to operate their drone without first complying with this section.

Although you may not need special permission from Transport Canada to operate your drone if it complies with the definitions above, it is still important to follow the basic safety rules as described in the Interim Order to minimize the risk of danger to yourself and others and to avoid potential fines of up to $3,000.00 for individuals and $15,000.00 for corporations.

The Interim Order is significantly more restrictive than the regime it replaces. Recreational drone operators are well advised to familiarize themselves with this new regime.

Rob Kinghan is a Partner and Head of the Business Law Group at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall. He can be reached at or at 613.566.2848.

Paul Lalonde is an Articling Student with the firm and can be reached at  


[1] Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft. Ottawa, March 13, 2017.

[2] The Interim Order defines a Model Aircraft as being “an aircraft, the total weight of which does not exceed 35 kg (77.2 pounds), that is mechanically driven or launched into flight for recreational purposes and that is not designed to carry persons or other living creatures”.

[3] Visual Line-of-Sight or “VLOS” is defined in the Order as “unaided visual contact with an aircraft sufficient to be able to maintain control of the aircraft, know its location, and be able to scan the airspace in which it is operating to decisively see and avoid other aircraft or objects”. 


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