Where to fly your drone

Drones share airspace with other drones and aircraft. Knowing where to fly your drone is an important part of keeping the skies safe.

On this page

Check an interactive map

The National Research Council has created an interactive map. The map helps drone operators understand airspace and find out where to fly. It is for your convenience only.

Sharing airspace

If you fly a drone in Canada, you must follow the rules that help keep people and aircraft safe.

All drone operations

Prior to each flight, drone pilots must conduct a survey of the area and also consult:

NOTAMs tell pilots about event and obstacles that may affect them. All NOTAMs include the time and location of the event. Enter the ID of an aerodrome near you into the NAV CANADA NOTAMs portal to find NOTAMs in your area.

Any chart that has aeronautical information relevant to the flight will do. This may include aeronautical charts listed on the NAV CANADA website.

Controlled airspace

You must get air traffic control approval for operations in controlled airspace. For airspace controlled by NAV CANADA, request an RPAS Flight Authorization.

Drone pilots must maintain communications with the air traffic control authority while flying.

Areas that limit the use of drones

Airports, heliports and aerodromes

An aerodrome is anywhere that an aircraft can take off and land. This includes airports, heliports, and seaplane bases.

Unless you are following an established Transport Canada procedure, you cannot fly closer than:

Airports or heliports outside of controlled airspace

Pilots must make every reasonable attempt to get in contact with the airport/heliport/water aerodrome operator to fly within the zone indicated by the orange filled shape in the NRC Drone Site Selection Tool (DSST). If unable to establish communications with air traffic through the airport operator, the advanced drone operator is required to establish communications with and avoid other aircraft using standard radio procedures and visual procedures.

Access procedure:

  1. Have a valid drone Pilot Certificate- Advanced Operations.
  2. Adhere to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) and prior to your operation, research the Canadian Flight Supplement (CFS) for the airport / heliport / water aerodrome where operations are to be conducted to understand the relevant information
  3. Contact the airport operator to establish communications and information regarding air traffic for the duration of the proposed operation.
  4. Comply with the airport operator’s guidance, schedule, and other requests
  5. If unable to establish communications with the airport operator, contact air traffic on the applicable frequency found in the CFS. This could mean making a ‘blind call’ initially to attract attention. Use standard radio procedures. The person operating the VHF Radio must have a valid ROC-A Certificate.

    A radio call generally consists of four parts: the call-up, the reply, the message and the acknowledgement, for example:

    • Pilot Call-up - Who are you talking to, Airport Traffic or a Specific Aircraft - Who/what are you - Where are you, (Cardinal quadrant or distance and direction relative to the runway, with altitude (AGL).
    • Station Reply - Wait for a reply on that frequency
    • Pilot Message - Intentions, duration of operation
    • Station Acknowledgement - Wait for an acknowledgment on that frequency
  6. Respect the limits of the privileges given by your Transport Canada RPAS certificate with regards to Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations
  7. Always give way to manned aircraft and keep the RPAS within visual line of sight (VLOS)

Please note that you are not obligated to follow those access procedures if your operational area is located outside of the orange shapes depicted on the Drone Site Selection Tool. Those access procedures are only applicable if you are not within controlled airspace nor a zone controlled by DND. The orange shapes represent the areas with the highest air traffic due to approach, landing and take-off patterns at the airport/heliport and are therefore protected.

Even if no access procedures are established for the area outside of the orange shapes (DSST), you are required to apply due diligence. If you chose to fly in this area and see other aircraft operating it is recommended to land, and reassess the situation. If you notice regular aircraft activities there, it is recommended to contact the airport/heliport operator to understand the local traffic patterns better and to coordinate your operations. 

There are no distance requirements for operations near all other aerodromes but there may be special access procedures. Operators must maintain a safe distance from other aircraft at all times.

Zones controlled by the Department of National Defense

Drone pilots are not allowed into an airspace controlled by the Department of National Defense (DND) or within 3 nautical miles of a DND aerodrome, unless they have a Special Flight Operations Certificate that specifically allows them to do so.

National parks

Drone pilots are not allowed to take-off or land within a national park.

A park superintendent may allow the use of drones in some cases. If you want to fly a drone in a national park, read about the use of drones at Parks Canada places and contact Parks Canada.

Emergency sites

Drone pilots are not allowed to fly within the security perimeter of a police or first responder emergency operation, such as a traffic accident. You must also avoid sites near disasters (forest fires, floods, earthquakes). A drone flying near these areas may interfere with emergency personnel aircraft and the work of emergency personnel.

Advertised events

Drone pilots are not allowed to fly near or over advertised events, such as outdoor concerts and sporting events, unless they have a Special Flight Operations Certificate that specifically allows them to do so.

Indoors, near and over buildings

Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations do not apply to indoor or underground drone operations. No matter where you fly, however, you must fly safely and always respect all other laws so as not to pose danger to people or other aircraft. Before you fly indoors, or near or over buildings, we recommend getting permission from the building owner and/or occupants.

Related links

Know before you go!
Where can you fly your drone?

(PDF 628 Kb)

Text description

Know before you go!
Where can you fly your drone? 250 g – 25 kg

Register your drone and get your basic or advanced drone pilot certificate at: Canada.ca/drone-safety

Use this map to find a safe site to fly your drone: https://nrc.canada.ca/en/uav-site-selection/

Always respect the privacy of others while flying

Fly your drone:

  • where you can see it at all times
  • below 122 m (400 ft)
  • 1.9 km from heliports / 5.6 km from airports and outside controlled airspace
  • away from emergency sites and advertised events (concerts, parades)

Basic operations:

  • Fly 30 m horizontally from bystanders

Advanced operations:

For eligible drones

  • Get permission from NAV CANADA to fly in controlled airspace: navcanada.ca/rpas
  • Fly near or over bystanders

Canada.ca/drone-safety

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