Drones

Also known as Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), drones are readily available and can be inexpensive, so operators may not realize that drone operations are subject to jurisdictional requirements. Before you fly a drone, it is critical that you understand jurisdictional requirements for operation wherever you are flying.

In Canada, drones fall under Transport Canada Regulations. There is significant risk associated with the operation of a drone and serious penalties for breaking the rules, including fines of up to $15,000 and/or jail time. Drones are considered aircraft and the people operating drones are pilots.

An online submission form MUST BE completed for all drone flights that will be photographing or filming University of Alberta campuses and/or for any drone flight where the drone weighs more than 250 grams. Please submit the form at least 10 business days before your flight date, if possible. If you are flying a microdrone (i.e. weighs less than 250 grams) and not filming campus, you do not need to complete a submission. You must comply with heliport airspace restrictions at all times.

The basics before you fly
The drone operator is responsible for reviewing Transport Canada’s requirements prior to operation. Please note that regulations are subject to continuous change without notice.
  1. Receive appropriate University and Heliport permissions.
  2. Be “fit to fly”: never operate under the influence or while tired.
  3. Please be mindful at all times of others’ privacy and respect noise level guidelines. Do not fly close to residences and/or private homes.
  4. Drones may only take off and land from the ground. Drones may not land on any roof or other structure.
  5. Drones may only be used during daylight hours to ensure sufficient lighting. 
  6. Drones may not be operated inside any university building without receiving expressed written permission prior to any flight. Please submit your request here. (add link to submit request - form should include reference for ‘inside or outside operation.
The following restrictions apply to drones that weigh more than 250 grams only (i.e. not microdrones):
  1. All drones must be registered to fly (as of June 1, 2019)
  2. Drone Pilot Certificate required
    • Drone Operations - Basic or Advanced Certification
Permission to fly over campus

If you are flying any size of drone in order to take photos or video of our campuses, you must first agree to follow the University's guidelines, sign an agreement, and receive permission from University Brand and Communications. If you are flying a drone that weighs more than 250 grams for any other purpose, either indoors or outdoors, you must receive permission from Insurance & Risk Assessment. Please complete this request form with your flight details. Please submit the form at least 10 business days before your flight date, if possible. 

Once you submit the form, University staff from the appropriate department will review your request and be in touch. Please review campus-specific restrictions below, as some of our campuses are in heliport airspace.

If you are flying a microdrone (i.e. weighs less than 250 grams) and are not photographing/filming campus, you do not need to submit a request form.

Drone size
The weight of your drone dictates which Transport Canada and University requirements you must meet.
  • Under 250 grams: microdrones do not fall into the basic or advanced operations categories. If you have a micro drone, you must never put people or aircraft in danger and you must always fly responsibly. You do not require the University’s permission to fly a micro drone unless you will be using it to take photos or video of our campuses
  • Between 250 grams and 25 kilograms: you must be licensed to fly and you must follow the rules in the Canadian Aviation Regulations in addition to following the University guidelines for permission to fly over our campuses.
  • Over 25 kilograms: you need special permission from Transport Canada before you fly in addition to following the University guidelines for permission to fly over our campuses.
Restrictions for each campus
The permissions required to fly over a university campus depends on a variety of factors, including the size of your drone, flight path/location and whether or not you plan to take photos or videos of the campus. Four of the University’s five campuses fall at least partially into heliport airspace and are therefore restricted, as per Transport Canada. You may view restricted spaces using the Government of Canada’s drone map tool.
  • Augustana Campus: falls into St. Mary’s Hospital heliport airspace. 
    • Basic drone operations not permitted anywhere over campus.
    • Advanced operations permitted only when written permission is obtained from heliport operator.
  • Botanic Gardens: basic and advanced operations permitted. 
    • Flight details must be coordinated with Garden staff.
    • Must never fly over bystanders and must be more than 30 metres away from them horizontally.
  • Campus Saint-Jean: basic and advanced operations permitted. 
    • Must never fly over bystanders and must be more than 30 metres away from them horizontally.
  • Enterprise Square: falls into Edmonton Royal Alexandra Hospital heliport airspace. 
    • Basic drone operations not permitted anywhere over campus. 
    • Advanced operations permitted only when written permission is obtained from heliport operator.
  • North Campus: falls into Stollery heliport airspace. 
    • Basic drone operations not permitted anywhere over campus. 
    • Advanced operations permitted only when written permission is obtained from heliport operator.
  • South Campus: northeast corner falls into Stollery heliport airspace. 
    • Pilot must consult drone map tool to confirm no flight will take place in that portion of campus. 
    • Basic and advanced operations permitted over the rest of campus. 
    • Must never fly over bystanders and must be more than 30 metres away from them horizontally.
Insurance requirements
Parties seeking permission to fly drones over University of Alberta property must meet all approval requirements above and provide the University with a certificate of insurance evidencing a minimum of $2,000,000 limit general liability, 30 days notice of material change or cancellation of insurance coverage, and have the Governors of the University listed as additional insured.
Note for University staff operating a drone outside of Canada
University operators flying off campus: please ensure you review and understand local jurisdictional requirements for flying outside of Canada and any requirements for flying over private property. Field researchers can find more information here. These guidelines do not address any requirements for use of underwater drones.