Sometimes it can be interesting to observe the passing of legislation through the government, especially these days. Now more than ever, people are banding together to request action from the government in some form or another. And yet, the wheels of bureaucracy are slow to turn on hotly contested issues.

By contrast, things like commercial drone legislation are already approved and in effect at both a federal and provincial level. It seems there is some aspect of legitimacy or importance that is considered over and above our requirements. Still, the point of this article is not to shame Canada’s government (they do a great job, for the record), but instead to discuss the height of commercial drone flights.


How High Can Commercial Drones Fly?

Commercial drones cannot legally fly above 122 metres (400 feet). This is the limit imposed by the Canadian Aviation Regulations, a rather hefty document even by government standards. Keep in mind that the above link is not for the regulations themselves but simply the “easily navigable” table of contents. In fairness to those who brought this legislation into existence, flying, hovering and operating are all fairly dangerous activities, even at relatively small sizes.


Are There Other Restrictions on Commercial Drone Flights?

As you might expect with such a lengthy document, the restrictions on commercial drone services extend far beyond the vertical height limit. Other restrictions on commercial drone flights include:

  • Maintaining Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) at all times
  • Staying away from bystanders at a minimum horizontal distance of 30 metres
  • Refraining from entering controlled airspace
  • Avoiding other aircraft, airports, emergency operations, large public events, and more

And these are just the restrictions that apply to commercial and pleasure drones when in use. But, before any of these are worth knowing, it is important to first understand what must be done to have a legal aircraft.

Silhouette of drone flying above city at sunset

Pre-flight Requirements

Much like the regulations that surround other commercial flights, like holiday and business travelling in full-sized passenger aircraft, commercial drones must be documented, checked and approved prior to flight.

These administrative requirements include getting a drone pilot certificate, which demonstrates and proves your knowledge of drone care, operation and maintenance. They also include registering your drone and labelling it with the proper identifying information. Plus, there is the prerequisite knowledge of defining your flight as either basic or advanced operations.

Once all your ducks are in a row, as the idiom goes, you will then need to survey your chosen flight location. Much like a hazard assessment performed on your tools and equipment at work, the pre-flight survey ensures you are aware of environmental conditions and hazards that must be taken into consideration for a successful flight.


Learn More About Canadian Drone Legislation

As we mentioned above, the Canadian Aviation Regulations are a vast and storied piece of federal legislation. Still, they do contain all sorts of helpful information for would-be drone pilots, industry professionals and general public hobbyists. For a more compact and useful document on flying drones legally and safely, check out this document by Transport Canada.