Drone site selection tool
From: National Research Council Canada
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Image description - Map: Drone site selection tool
This interactive map tool provides a graphical way to choose safe operating sites for drone flights. Areas that require caution are shown in yellow. Areas that require permission are shown in orange and areas where drone flights are not permitted are shown in red.
Use the icons in the sidebar of the map to perform the following functions:
- Specify details about your operation/qualifications
- Centre the map on a location
- Adjust the map layer controls
- FAQ and Help
- Save settings or reset to defaults
- Send feedback to the website developers
- Adjust map layers
1. Users should start by selecting the appropriate category of your drone operations (i.e. Basic or Advanced). Select the appropriate category by using the 'operation details' tab that opens when you click on the Gamepad icon ().
2. Next, either manually centre the map using standard zoom/pan controls, or use the Search icon () to search for a location, or centre the map by using your device's geolocation.
How to Interpret the Map:
The map uses colour to identify areas that require additional caution, or are prohibited from drone flights. Areas filled with red are prohibited. Areas filled with yellow require additional caution due to other air traffic. Areas filled with orange require permission from the Nav Canada, Parks Canada, National Defence, or an airport operator. Clicking on any shape will present an information window providing further details.
Users should start by selecting the appropriate category of your drone operations (i.e. Basic or Advanced). Select the appropriate category by using the 'operation details' tab that opens when you click on the Gamepad icon.
Next, either manually centre the map using standard zoom/pan controls, or use the Search icon to search for a location, or centre the map by using your device's geolocation.
Understanding the map
The map uses colour to identify areas that require additional caution, or are prohibited from drone flights. Areas filled with red are prohibited. Areas filled with yellow require additional caution due to other air traffic. Areas filled with orange require permission from Nav Canada, Parks Canada, National Defence, or an airport operator. Clicking on any shape will present an information window providing further details.
The Globe Icon contains several controls that can be toggled on or off. The Zoom control adds +/- icons that can be used to modify the zoom level. The Street view control introduces an icon that can be dragged to a location on the map where you wish to see street level view (if available). The Map type control introduces a drop down menu where you can select whether the map is a roadmap (with toggleable terrain), or satellite imagery. The Fullscreen control introduces an icon that may be used to expand the map to occupy your full screen.
Operation Design Tools
The gamepad icon contains two tools that can be toggled to assist in the design of your RPAS operation.
By selecting the 'show measure tool' checkbox you can drag measurement markers. The distance will be displayed at the top centre of the map. The markers can be dragged and may be used to validate your operation's distances from built up areas or structures, etc. Un-checking the checkbox will remove the markers from the map.
Selecting the 'operation design tools' checkbox will add a toolbar to the top of the map that allows you to draw the boundaries of your operation. The vertices can be repositioned by dragging. As an experimental feature, clicking on the green filled shape will allow you perform a check on your proposed operation. Once complete the details will show up in the sidebar under the icon. Note: The operation design toolbar will only be seen if the map is zoomed in beyond a certain level.
The gear icon allows users to save the current map settings as default (including map centre, zoom, and style), or to restore the NRC default settings. The settings are saved in your browser�s local storage, and will be retained any time you visit the site from the same device. Deleting your browser cache will result in NRC defaults being applied.
Acronyms and Definitions
AAE - Above Aerodrome Elevation
AGL - Above Ground Level
ATS - Air Traffic Services
CDAH - Canadian Designated Airspace Handbook
Class A-G - Airspace in Canada is divided into 7 classes. Drone pilots with a Basic Drone Pilot Certificate must stay in Class G; drone pilots with an Advanced Drone Pilot Certificate may enter other classes of airspace if they have permission from the authority managing the airspace (NAV CANADA, or DND as appropriate).
CYA - Advisory Class F Airspace
CYD - Danger Class F Airspace
CYR - Restricted Class F Airspace
CZ - Control Zone
FIR - Flight Information Region
RPAS - Remotely Piloted Aircraft System
SFC - Surface
Planning Your Flight
Review the information at Transport Canada's web page
In addition to using the Drone site selection tool you should plan to fly where you can see it at all times (i.e. not behind obstacles), below 122 metres (400 feet) in the air, away from bystanders, at a minimum distance of 30 metres for basic operations, away from emergency operations and advertised events. Avoid forest fires, outdoor concerts, parades, etc.
Perform a site survey as per 901.27. Here you must establish that the take off/landing site is suitable for the operation considering the boundaries of the operation, the type of airspace, the altitudes and routes for approach/departure from the take off/landing area, the proximity to other aircraft, obstacles, weather, and the horizontal distances from people not associated with the operation. You may want to save a screen capture of your operation as part of the record keeping requirements of 901.48
When selecting a location for Take-Off/Landing, be mindful of 901.33 and ensure that there is no likelihood of collision with another aircraft, person or obstacle, and that the area is appropriate for the type of operation you are planning to conduct.
Check the weather limits for your drone as per 901.34, and ensure that you have adequate control margin to safely conduct the operation. Applications such as https://www.windy.com may assist in estimating the conditions.
Read the NOTAMs prior to commencing flight operations. The NOTAMS can be downloaded from Nav Canada. Enter the ID associated with the nearest aerodrome to your proposed operation, and select the Aerodrome NOTAM file as well as the FIR NOTAM file. Alternatively, you can find a visual presentation of the NOTAMs at http://www.zuluforpilots.com/Map
Establish a list of emergency contact information appropriate for the area, and consider the appropriate course of action/contact for events such as a fly-away, injury, etc.
Ensure that your drone is serviceable as per 901.29, and verify that your flight plan has been loaded correctly into the software. Prior to flying you should ensure that there is minimal risk of losing the wireless link to your drone; be aware of any high power RF transmitters in the area. A spectrum analyzer such as the RF Explorer can help identify potential congested channels, and sources of interference.
Fly safe, stick to your planned area, keep your drone within visual range, and stay clear of other aircraft at all times.
Flying your drone safely and legally - Transport Canada
Windy - Weather forecasting
NOTAMs - Nav Canada
Zulu For Pilots - Map based visual NOTAMs
Skyvector - Aeronautical Charts
FltPlan.com - Aerodrome Information
Canadian Airspace Viewer - Map displaying all Airspace as defined in the CDAH
Map of MAAC Clubs - Sites to fly without a drone license
Unmanned Systems Canada - National Association for Unmanned Systems
Here is a list of some commonly asked questions. More are can be seen in the sidebar bly clicking on the icon
1. If an area is not covered by a coloured shape is it legal to fly my drone there?
Not necessarily. The Drone site selection tool shows the known locations of airports/heliports and airspace on its map. The legality of a particular operation may be influenced by the laws of several jurisdictions, including municipal, provincial, property access rights, and privacy etc...
The operation of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) in accordance with this web-tool does not imply the operator is compliant with Transport Canada's regulatory requirements. The responsibility for ensuring compliance with the appropriate regulations lies with the RPAS pilot, Special Flight Operations Certificate holder, visual observers or other operators as applicable. Any questions regarding compliance with the regulations should be addressed to: TC.RPASInfo-InfoSATP.TC@tc.gc.ca
2. Where does the data for the map come from?
The airport/heliport data comes from Nav Canada's database, and is updated on a 56 day cycle. The airspace data is parsed from the Designated Airspace Handbook. The national park data was extracted from the Canada Lands Survey web services
A limited amount of data has been added manually to extend and improve upon the tool. An example of this is the inclusion of the restrictions surrounding Quebec corrections facilities as identified in Nav Canada's AIP Supplement 20/19
3. Can I have access to the database?
Sorry, but no. The licensing terms for the Nav Canada data used to derive the map shapes prohibit re-distribution of the underlying data at this time.
4. Geolocation issues.
There are several possible reasons why geolocation might not work as expected. Not all browsers are capable of supporting geolocation. You also need to have location services enabled on your device, and browser security settings. Using geolocation from a laptop or desktop can produce innacurate results because of the IP address locating technique that's used.
5. Slow map load times.
The Drone Site Selection Tool loads the map data for all of Canada simultaneously, and renders it using the Google Maps API. On slow Internet connections this can take a several seconds. A future release will only render shapes when zoomed in.
6. Problems with Internet Explorer/Edge
The expandable text boxes on the map canvas are known to not work correctly on Internet Explorer (all versions), or Edge. They have been tested and are known to work on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
To report problems with the Drone site selection tool please send a direct email to the developers:
Please note: NRC staff are unable to provide guidance regarding the legality of your proposed operation. For more information on drone safety rules in Canada, visit Drone Safety Questions already addressed in the FAQ may not receive a response.
For questions and concerns about Drone regulations in Canada, please contact Transport Canada: