Welcome to PhantomPilots.com

Sign up for a weekly email of the latest drone news & information

SFOC required in Canada to film real estate?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SpaceDan, Nov 6, 2015.

  1. SpaceDan

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2015
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    4
    Does anyone know if you need a SFOC (Special Flight Operations Certificate) to fly a drone in Canada for work purposes (specifically to sell photos/videos of real estate) if your drone us under 2 kg?
    I just came across an article (written in September 2015) stating: “If your aircraft weighs two kilograms or less, and you can meet the safety conditions in the Transport Canada exemption, you don’t need permission to fly. There are some rules necessary to follow, such as not being allowed to fly higher than 90 metres above the ground.”
    http://renx.ca/create-drone-video-gets-attention/
     
  2. suprphreak

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    16
  3. SpaceDan

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2015
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    4

    But what about the requirement #26 in the exemption that says "The pilot operating under this exemption shall only operate a UAV at least five (5) nautical miles from a built up area."
     
  4. suprphreak

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    16
    Look at 27, which provides more specific "not associated with the operation".

    Built up area refers more to urban/city situations, which wont be much of a market for real estate vids anyways. This exemption was almost tailor made for real estate agents wanting aerial vids or pics of their properties.
     
  5. SpaceDan

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2015
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    4
    I agree that "built up areas" do refer to urban/city situations, but how does this help? Urban/city areas are where the vast majority of real estate aerial videos would be filmed. If you're filming a farmhouse or acreage for sale, I could see the argument that you're not filming in a build-up area. But in the video on the article I mentioned, the guy is clearly filming for real estate in a built-up area without a SFOC.

    Also, you mentioned condition #27 "The pilot operating under this exemption shall operate a UAV at a lateral distance of at least 100 feet from any building, structure, vehicle, vessel or animal not associated with the operation and at least 100 feet from any person." ... If you're filming a house, you'd have a problem because almost every house has another house within 100 feet (30 meters).

    I appreciate your comments because I want to understand this, however so far I can't see how you could proceed without a SFOC when using a phantom unless you're on a farm / acreage.
     
  6. suprphreak

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    16
    Then go ahead and apply for SFOC. It will take up to 30 days. That house will be on the market and sold in 3.

    This exemption was made in response to real estate, because the long delays meant the videos just wouldn't happen. Built-up means dense high-rise city, not suburbs, who will be your market. People in downtown areas look at different things, like the entire neighbourhood, nearby amenities. They want to see it from ground level since they will mostly be walking. Suburbs is where its at. The video in the linked article would not be considered "built up". Its an industrial area, and you will notice the flight path never leaves the property. The lens on the Phantom is wide enough you wont need to leave most driveways to shoot the house, let alone the property. Stay on the property you are shooting, you meet exemption.

    Also, with regards to 27, the 30m rule: the neighbouring houses are part of the neighbourhood, which is part of the living area in which your subject property is located. Therefore, they become associated by nature. Just because they are there, doesn't mean its a problem. Clearly, you want to avoid flying over them, or into them, but just seeing them isnt an issue.

    It is very good you are asking these questions, I asked the same before I started shooting videos. The best piece of advice for you, is to make sure YOU are in charge. Your seller may want certain shots, but you make the call if it can happen safely and within guidelines. Mentioning Transport Canada certainly helps sound authoritative, so dont be afraid to name drop. If the weather isnt ideal (wind, rain, thunder) call it off. If there are obstructions like power lines that prevent safe operation, call it off. You may need to return another day, and that's business.

    PR tip: be ready to answer questions to nosy neighbours. Many times people will be interested in the drone because cool tech, and the occasional person will have privacy concerns. Be very open and welcoming to those people. Show them that you cant see into a house, etc. It may cost you time, but makes things better later. Emphasize that safety is your concern first, shots second. It will put the worried at ease.
     
    Joshua Carillo likes this.
  7. SpaceDan

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2015
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    4
    Thanks for the tips in you reply. Really appreciate your thoughtful answer.

    Another question for you: How did you find out that the following two statements you made are true? Transport Canada?

    A) "the exemption was made in response to real estate" and
    B) "built-up means dense high-rise city, not suburbs"

    I'd assume the only authority to be able to claim that these statements are true would be Transport Canada.

    Thanks again
     
    Meta4 likes this.
  8. suprphreak

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    70
    Likes Received:
    16
    No prob, here to help.

    A & B) Transport Canada clarifies all points here: Advisory Circular (AC) No. 600-004 - Transport Canada

    The purpose of the exemption is to ensure safe integration of UAS into the airspace, as they are already there, safely, and need rules. Basically, already being used to shoot real-estate, weddings, etc etc etc, without issues, so lets make the rules official.

    So, when you look at #26, they are more specific with their definition of "built up area". As you can see, anything can be "built up", but their concern is damage to property and person. More dense=more bad. So, flying in downtown rowhomes on busy city streets with lots of pedestrian and car traffic, is a bad idea. However, flying in a quiet suburb where you may have the occasional car, or pedestrian, where you dont have a crowd in the front yard, meets the "spirit of the law" . Effectively, flying over the front lawn of a suburban detached home is no different than flying over the front lawn of a farm house, provides you stay within limits as mentioned earlier.

    So, in summary, you are right, that anything more than a farm is considered "built up", but the reason for the rule has to do with density of obstacles which are largely mitigated outside of urban dwellings.
     
  9. SpaceDan

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2015
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    4
    Thanks for the link.

    Concerning the "built-up areas" restriction, the Transport Canada link you mentioned states:

    "The pilot operating under this exemption shall only operate a UAV at least five (5) nautical miles away from a built-up area. ... Built-up areas are considered areas with groups of buildings or dwellings including anything from small hamlets to major cities. Anything larger than a farmstead should be considered a built up area."

    "Anything larger than a farmstead should be considered a built-up area". A quiet suburban area is definitely larger than a farmstead, therefore a quiet suburban area is definitely built-up, I don't see how it could be interpreted otherwise. They explain the need for this condition as follows: "UAVs operated under these exemptions are not required to meet any technical airworthiness standards meaning that there is no assurance of the airworthiness or capabilities of the UAV system. This increases the risks to persons and property on the ground, therefore, UAVs must not be operated near populated areas." Basically, because if you're using this exemption to avoid getting a SFOC, Transport Canada has no idea as to the air-worthiness of your drone, so the only way they will let you use it is if you're flying at least 5 miles from a built-up area.

    Have you ever contacted Transport Canada to see if you can fly your drone for real-estate work in a quiet suburb by using the exemption?
    Thanks and regards.
     
  10. timz5011

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2015
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    SE ALBERTA, CANADA
    Please take a look at #22..
    The pilot conducting operations under this exemption shall only operate a UAV in Class G airspace.
    Note: As these UAVs are not required to meet any mandatory communication, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) equipment requirements, operations are limited to uncontrolled airspace (Class G). This equates to airspace in which no air traffic control is provided to pilots. Additionally, operations under this exemption are restricted from transponder airspace, restricted airspace, control zones, controlled airspace and areas with higher volumes of manned aviation where UAV operations pose a greater risk to other airspace users. For these types of operations an SFOC would be required. There are seven classes of airspace in Canada, each designated by a letter (A through G) and they are detailed below. The class of airspace can be determined through several sources including the Canadian Flight Supplement, the Canadian Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) (TP14371E) http://www.tc.gc.ca/publications/en/tp14371/pdf/hr/tp14371e.pdf and various VFR and IFR maps/charts.

    You can only fly in G class airspace under this exemption. Know your airspace! Do your homework, fly safe!
     
  11. SpaceDan

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2015
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    4
    Thanks for your post about the limitation under this exemption of only allowing flight in Class G airspace. Furthermore, what is your opinion on whether or not you can fly under this exemption in a “quiet, suburban area”of a city? The other person on this thread (suprphreak) suggests that it is OK to fly under this exemption in a suburb in a city, saying “Built-up means dense high-rise city, not suburbs, who will be your market. People in downtown areas look at different things, like the entire neighborhood, nearby amenities. They want to see it from ground level since they will mostly be walking. Suburbs is where its at.”
     
  12. timz5011

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2015
    Messages:
    55
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    SE ALBERTA, CANADA
    are you planning your SFOC application? .. a point to ponder.

    The main item that most overlook and that restricts the widespread use of the exemptions for many is the 5NM (9KM) restrictions from airports and built-up areas. The confusion comes from what a “built-up area” is as TC has not defined in clearly, however it is generally referred to mean the following:

    any group of structures that could interfere with the safe operation of an aircraft. These can include houses, factories, service stations, grain elevators, apartment buildings, or airports

    NOTE: Built-up Area has since been further defined by TC as noted in this article:
    http://blog.flitelab.com/2014/12/19/terminology-built-up-area/

    So any town or village or group of houses/buildings, etc would generally fall into this definition and be outside what the exemption allows. For example you couldn’t do real estate shoots with a UAV under the exemption if it were in a subdivision or community as those would be built-up areas.

    The main distinction between the under 2kg and 2-25kg class is the need for the pilot in the larger class to have ground school training. As well in the larger class you must keep 500 feet from buildings and people whereas it is 100 feet in the smaller class.

    As noted previously there is much more to the exemptions that what the infographic shows, and it is the responsibility of the operator to ensure they are fully compliant with the exemption requirements.

    You must observe and comply with all the conditions included in the applicable exemption in order to use the exemption as your authority to operate a UAV. If not you could be subject to penalties/fines.

    When you boil down the exemptions they are really for very specific and limited use, targeted at remote rural areas for farming, forestry, and mining type operations. For most operators the restrictions will be far too limiting for them to be used for commercial work, and you will need to file for an SFOC as had been done in the past. Unfortunately the ease and openness that was mentioned by all the media at the press release is truly not there for most.

    The exemption does not allow for commercial work, you must have an SFOC and be willing to do your due diligence. Suffice to say that there are going to be some that will stretch the exemptions to fit their own needs, is it legal??.. that depends on the judge, and the prosecutor.

    Happy Safe Flying!!
     
  13. mabyrnes

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2015
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    I have talked to TC and have been told an SFOC is absolutely needed for any real estate that is not rural.
     
    Joshua Carillo likes this.