Our thanks to Dave Hord of the PDQ flyers for pulling together much of the information regarding the RPAS Pilot Basic Certificate and sharing it with us.

On February 25th, 2023 MAAC members received a notice that the Transport Canada Exemption, which allowed us to fly model aircraft under MAAC rules, had been revoked. If you have not read the notice, it is available as a PDF by clicking this link.

As of the notice, all flying of model aircraft in Canada must be done under the Canadian Aviation Regulations, Part IX. While the MAAC Executive has begun an appeal process, currently, the only way to fly is for our members to fly under the Part IX regulations.

At Michell Airpark, you can fly a model aircraft with a take-off weight of 250g or less with just your MAAC and VRCMS memberships.   Please see this document for more information.

Model aircraft (RPAS) weighing between 250g and 25kg CANNOT be flown at Michell Airpark with a Basic RPAS Pilot Certificate.  To fly larger models elsewhere (i.e. not in controlled airspace) the Basic RPAS certificate will suffice, along with registration of your model.

We are working to determine if it is possible to fly in controlled airspace if you have the Advanced RPAS pilot Certificate and follow the procedures required, however, as there is some clarity required on exactly what is required to do so, we are seeking confirmation from TC before recommending this approach.

If you wish to fly you existing models at other airfields not in controlled airspace, you will require your Basic RPAS Pilot Certificate.

 First Step: Getting a Pilot Certificate

There are three types of pilot certificates – Basic, Advanced & Special Permission.

BASIC CERTIFICATE – Minimum certificate required to fly RPAS in Canada.  This is used in cases where:

  • – Flight is in uncontrolled airspace
  • – You fly more than 30 meters (100ft) horizontally from bystanders
  • – You never fly OVER bystanders
  • – You are more than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or military aerodrome
  • – You are more than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport.

ADVANCED CERTIFICATE – An Advanced certificate allows for:

  • – Flight in controlled airspace
  • – Flight within 30 meters (100ft) horizontally from bystanders
  • – Flight over bystanders
  • – Flight within 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or military aerodrome
  • – Flight within 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport.

This certificate type has increased testing requirements, and increased flight requirements.


  • If your RPAS weighs more than 25kg, or you wish to fly outside of any of the other rules, you will require special permission from Transport Canada before you can fly. The Special Permission options are outside the scope of this page.

Basic Pilot Certificate Exam – The exam costs $10 per attempt, and can be attempted as many times as you like until you pass. If you fail the exam, you are required to wait 24hrs before you may attempt it again.  The exam is 35 questions long, and you will have 90 minutes to complete it. A score of 65% or higher is considered a pass. The exam is an ‘open book’ exam, but you cannot give or accept help from any person during the exam.

The exam does have some specialized knowledge about airports, aerodromes, weather, and radio use that the average Canadian (or modeler) is not likely to know. Our recommendation is that you want to study before taking the exam.

Self Study Guides

If you are going to study yourself, there are two guides which are helpful:

Transport Canada Knowledge Requirements  – This document is a list of all the items which you are expected to be familiar with, in order to pass your test. It doesn’t teach the items, but it lists them.  For example:

“[the] small RPAS pilot operating within visual line of sight must be able to define aerodrome, airport, and pilot-in-command.”

By quickly reading though the list, you may determine you’ve got enough knowledge to attempt the test without any further study. Conversely, it may convince you that a little reading is in order.

RPAS 101 – A general knowledge guide for Canadian RPAS Pilots .  This PDF book is the ‘easiest’ read I could find online for free. It’s very detailed, covers all the sections you will need to know for both passing your test, and actually flying within the regulations. It’s 120 pages total, and you’ll find you can skim or skip many of the sections.

Classes – Online and In Person – There are a three drone flight schools in the area, which can be found through this link here

Coastal Drone out of Langley City BC offers an online course for the Basic Pilot Certificate. The course is $99, and includes practice exams and more. The course appears to be aimed at the “quad-copter drone” crowd, and we’ve made no effort to evaluate the actual classes offered. You can read about their program here.

When you are ready to take the exam, follow this link here.  Once you have passed the exam, please email a copy of your certificate to the treasurer.

Second Step: Register Aircraft

All RPAS between 250g and 25kg must be registered. This includes custom built RPAS, RPAS built from a kit, and off-the-shelf products.  The cost to register your RPAS is $5 per unit, and you only need to register RPAS you are going to fly.  You do not need to register your transmitter or controllers.

Before you head to the website to register your RPAS, you’ll need to gather a few things:

  • Purchase date (if known)
  • Make
  • Model
  • Serial number if equipped
  • Your VISA, Mastercard, American Express, or Interac Card

Each aircraft you wish to register is done one at a time, with a separate payment. There is no option to add multiple aircraft to your cart and pay at once.  Use this link here to register your RPAS.

The outside of your aircraft needs to be marked with the registration number provided by Transport Canada. You can use a label, or permanent marker, and there are no size requirements. The registration number must be on a ‘permanent’ part of the aircraft, not on a removable piece such as a battery or hatch cover.

Documents For Flying

  • Registration Certificate – The registration certificate for your aircraft is to be with you while flying. You can print the certificate which is emailed to you, or some of the digital flying tools will allow you to upload them into your device.
  • Maintenance Logbook – As the regulations are based on full-scale aircraft, we are required to have a maintenance logbook. The log book can be digital (with some extra rules in place) or a paper copy. You need to have the maintenance log with you when flying the aircraft.
  • Instruction Manual – Keeping in mind that the regulations are based on full scale aircraft, we are required to have any operators manual within reach for immediate use by the pilot or crew. Many of our ARF, Foamies and other RPAS ship with an instruction manual, and we are required to have those on site while flying.

Third Step: Site Survey

The simplest way to produce a site survey that meets all the requirements is through the MAAC RPAS Wilco App. Having the app on your smartphone means you will have access to the required information at the field.

RPAS Wilco can also be used online through the website. A PDF of the site survey is emailed to you. You can even do site surveys in advance, and the system will email you the PDF 2 hours before your flying session.  MAAC Members get the pro version of RPAS Wilco for free – use the invitation code maacpro when you create an account.

Fourth Step: Log books

Following the Part IX regulations requires pilots to keep two types of log books:

Flight Logs – A record containing the names of pilot and other crew members who were involved with each flight

  • Time / date record of each flight or series of flights
  • Aircraft used for the flights

Maintenance Logs – A record containing the particulars of any mandatory action and other maintenance or repair conducted.  Includes:

  • the names of the persons who performed them
  • The dates they were undertaken
  • If applicable, any instructions provided to complete the work
  • the manufacturer, model, and description of the part or equipment installed in the case of a modification

Maintenance logs are kept for 24mo, and transferred to the new owner in the case of a sale

There is no stipulation that the flight log and maintenance log cannot be kept in the same book, and indeed that is how many of the commercially available drone log books are setup. Flight logs are to be kept for a period of 12 months, while maintenance logs are kept for a period of 24 months. If your RPAS is transferred to a new owner, the maintenance logs are to go with the aircraft.

Failure to keep, and use, the above log books could result in a $1,000 fine for recreational users.

Electronic Flight Log options

RPAS Wilco

The RPAS Wilco App will serve as your flight log, if you are using it on your phone or tablet while at the field. You can setup and load check lists, and each time you check that you have powered on your aircraft it will automatically start a timer. When you check off that you have powered off your aircraft, it will stop the timer and record the flight as a flight log.  All the flights in your session are logged together.  RPAS Wilco is detailed further in the Site Survey section of our RPAS help.

“Digital Logbooks” (ex: Excel)

Excel can be an excellent way to log both your flights and maintenance records, without the need to print sheets or carry pages. There is an additional rule you must be aware of if using Excel or another digital record.  Any digital logbook must have a “change history” feature that is on, and functioning. Transport Canada needs to be able to see if any editing or changes to logs has been done. Without change history functioning, your digital log book will not meet the requirements and the fine could be imposed.

At The Field (or, packing for the field!)

The list of everything you need to bring to the field for the new regulations.

  • VRCMS Membership Card
  • MAAC Membership Card
  • Basic or Advanced Pilot Certificate

Site Documentation

  • Completed Site Survey
  • Normal Procedures
  • Emergency Procedures

Aircraft Documentation

  • Certificate of Registration for the RPAS
  • Registration Marked on RPAS
  • Manufacturers Operating Manual for the RPAS (readily accessible)
  • Maintenance Logbook for the RPAS

Other Documentation

  • Flight Logs for the Pilot
  • Proof of Recency – This document is a self test that must be completed every 24mo, and retained by the pilot. Your Basic exam covers your first 24mo.

Normal procedures are the steps that are important to completing a safe and successful flight. The document that you require to have access to is essentially a pre-flight checklist.

Emergency procedures can be a checklist, but unlike normal procedures that are followed every flight, emergency procedures are simply reviewed (frequently) to ensure pilot and crew know what the steps are and how to complete them. Your emergency procedures document must address at least the following situations:

  • Control Station Failure
  • Equipment Failure
  • Failure of the Aircraft
  • Loss of Command and Control Link
  • Fly-Away
  • Flight Termination

Aircraft under 250g

At the request of some of our members, we were asked to seek out some options for under 250g flying. If your RPAS is under 250g, you can fly at the field without a Basic Pilots Certificate, or registering your aircraft. HOWEVER:

  • You still need to be an active VRCMS Member in good standing
  • You still need to be a MAAC member in good standing

There are some intriguing options following these links. Certainly enough to keep one flying while the exemption appeal process, and/or new MAAC exemption are worked through.

Twisted hobbies has a series of EPP planes that come in under 250g. While primarily aimed at the 3D flying crowd, it appears a few models could be used for ‘traditional’ flight.

Twisted Hobbies Webpage https://twistedhobbys.com/

Banggood / Eachine / VolantexRC

This series of warbirds (sold under the above brands) are 4 channel planes that generally have very favourable reviews on the forums. The units use 1s batteries and can be bound to a Radiomaster TX16s so you don’t have to use their controller (no idea if you can bind to any other radio).

They also have a line of helicopters that one of our members flies indoors, which may work well at the field. Check weights of individual planes carefully, this link takes you to all their fixed-wing aircraft.

Banggood Webpage https://www.banggood.com/Wholesale-RC-Airplane-c-1855.html

Horizon Hobbies – A number of planes in the UMX line from Horizon hobby come in under 250g. The AS3X is quite helpful with the variable winds.

  • UMX Pitts – 133g
  • UMX Timber – 162g with recommended battery
  • UMX A10 EDF – 192g with battery
  • UMX Twin Otter – 82g before battery (1S)
  • Radian Glider – 45g before battery
  • P51D Voodoo – 109g with 2s battery