2018 Canadian UAV Industry Survey

Unmanned Systems Canada, a Canadian-registered not-for-profit association representing the Canadian unmanned vehicle systems community, is conducting a UAS industry survey on behalf of Transport Canada.

The purpose of this survey is to update a previous survey from 2013 and provide insight into planned UAS industry growth within and outside of Canada.

The survey takes approximately 5-10 minutes.

To take the survey click here.

Drones in the News

A trio of interesting drone-related news items that have recently sparked our interest:

> Blooming marvellous: drones give B.C. researchers new view of ‘enormous’ jellyfish clusters – It’s the first time scientists have been able to fully study moon jellyfish, UBC professor says

> Archaeologists found thousands of hidden structures in the Guatemalan jungle — and it could re-write human history – Using state-of-the-art laser technology, archaeologists uncovered over 60,000 previously unknown Maya structures deep in the Guatemalan jungle, including foundations for houses, military fortifications, and elevated causeways.

> Dutch Drone First to Map Pristine National Park in Half a Century




Recommended Drone System for Mapping

We’re often asked about what kind of drone can be used for mapping. While there are many available options and each have their own unique pros and cons. We’ve decided to share below a list of drone and accessories we commonly use for our mapping projects.

First, the absolute essentials:

While not essential, the following accessories are very nice to have and will make your flying much more efficient and enjoyable:

Full disclosure: each of the links above will take you to DJI’s online store. If you choose to purchase anything from their store PacificUAV will receive a small referral credit.

Aerobotika UAV Ground School Training

Transport Canada compliant training in UAV use is becoming increasingly essential for prospective drone operators. If you are someone who is interested in getting into the unmanned aviation industry PacificUAV recommends Aerobotika’s UAV Ground School.  The program provides training on operational best-practices as well as a comprehensive overview of the current regulatory environment related to flying drones within Canada. The course also includes Industry Canada’s Restricted Radio Operators Certificate with Aeronautical Qualification (ROC-A).

The course is currently offered in a variety of cities across Canada year-round, and for those who cannot attend a class in-person there is also a convenient online virtual classroom option.

For more information visit Aerobotika’s UAV Ground School page.

Disclosure: this is NOT a sponsored post and PacificUAV has not been compensated in any way by Aerobotika. All opinions remain our own.


Moose Cree First Nation Testing Drone Delivery Service

CBC reports that a drone company by the name of Drone Delivery Canada is testing a drone delivery service in a remote Northern Ontario First Nation.

The purpose of the testing is to evaluate the feasibility of delivering goods of less than 10lbs to the island of Moose Factory during times when ferry service  or other modes of transportation are unavailable.

For more information check out the CBC news article here.

New Proposed Transport Canada Regulations for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Transport Canada is overhauling its regulations governing drone flights within Canada. The proposed regulations introduce three categories of drone operation:

1. Very small drone operations

Pilots must be 14 years old or older; must mark drone with their name and contact information; pass a basic knowledge test; have liability insurance; and
fly at least: 5.5 km from airports, 1.85 km from heliports and 30 m from people.

2. Limited operations (rural)

Pilot must be 16 years old or older and required to: mark their device with their name and contact information; pass a basic knowledge test; have liability insurance; and fly at least: 5.5 km from airports, 1.85 km from heliports, 150 m from open-air assemblies of people (i.e. outdoor concert), 75 m from people, vehicles, vessels and 1 km from built-up areas.

3. Complex operations (urban)

Pilot must be 16 years or older and required to: hold a pilot permit that is specific to small drones; have liability insurance; register and mark their device with a unique identification Transport Canada will provide; operate a drone that meets a design standard; follow a set of flight rules; get approval from air traffic control when flying in controlled airspace or near aerodromes; and
fly at least: 150 m from open-air assemblies of people (i.e. outdoor concert) unless at least 90 m high and 30 m from people, vehicles, vessels.

If your drone weighs between 250g and 25kg and you are operating within visual-line-of-sight you will no longer require a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) as long as you meet the requirements stipulated within one of the three categories above.

For example, you will need an SFOC if you intend to operate a drone out of sight or if your drone weighs more than 25 kg.

For more information visit Transport Canada’s Proposed rules for drones in Canada page.



Challenges of Mapping a Sandbar using a Drone

How often does one get asked to map a sandbar?

A section of sandbar PacificUAV recently mapped

PacificUAV recently received a request to map a sandbar in the Fraser River. The client wanted up-to-date accurate information on it’s extent, topography, and volume. In this short post we highlight some important considerations when  mapping a sandbar.

Timing is Critical

The best time to survey a sandbar is when water level is at its lowest. This ensures that the greatest volume of sandbar is visible above the water line. For sandbars located in areas where tide influences water level it is important to find the best available information source on tides and schedule the survey to occur when the water level is at its lowest. The Fraser River is considered a tidal river over its lower sections which means ocean tides affect water level and current speed as it approaches the ocean. We obtained tide information from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and spoke with local river users to determine the best possible times for surveying the sandbar.


Some sandbars are connected to land and some are not. Sandbars not connected to land require special transportation arrangements. In this case we were lucky enough to have a client who knew the area very well and who could take to the sandbar by boat. Ensure that whoever is in charge of transportation is knowledgeable of the area, its local hazards, and can take you to where you need to go safely.

Beware of Tides

Sandbars generally have low profiles so even small changes in water level can significantly affect the amount of the sandbar that is visible about the water line. Tides at this particular site were surprisingly quick and we underestimated the time window available for the survey. As such we lost several ground control points to the water. For large sandbars we recommend conducting the survey is as short a time as possible. You can achieve this by using more than one drone to conduct the survey.  This will also minimize temporal variability in the resulting imagery.

Sand, sand and more sand

Sandbars are generally long and linear, have low profiles, and are made out of sand (no kidding). These characteristics can present some challenges to the surveyor; it takes more effort and time to walk around on the sandbar, sand can get into your gear and equipment, and sandbars are exposed to the weather (sun and wind). So take the time to plan mitigation strategies for minimizing any negative affects these will have on your survey.

Whew! All done.