Operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Near Wildfires - Civil Aviation Safety Alert (CASA) No. 2021-11


All RPAS (drone) pilots

File Classification No.: Z 5000-35
RDIMS No.: 17756029
Document No.: CASA 2021-11
Issue No.: 01
Effective Date: 2021-07-27


This Civil Aviation Safety Alert (CASA) is a reminder to Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) pilots that airspace around and over a forest fire is closed to all aircraft not directly involved in firefighting operations.


Disrupting air traffic around wildfires interferes with the safe and effective suppression of wildfires and presents a significant safety risk to firefighters, emergency personnel, and the general public. While drones can be used by emergency response teams for fire suppression, unauthorized drone use near wildfires increases the likelihood of a midair collision with firefighting aircraft, forcing response teams to ground their operations and putting lives at risk.

According to Section 601.15 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, the airspace surrounding wildfires is restricted to specialty air services involved in wildfire response. No person shall operate an aircraft, including drones, over a wildfire or any area located within 5 nautical miles (9.3 kilometers) of a wildfire at an altitude of less than 3,000 feet above ground level.

Anyone who violates controlled or restricted airspace and endangers the safety of piloted aircraft could be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.

Recommended Action

Drone pilots must be aware of the location of controlled and restricted airspace. Prior to flying a drone in the summer months, ensure that there are no smoke plumes or active forest fires within five nautical miles.

Consult local sources of information, such as the fire management agency website for your region of interest (province, territory or park):

https://www.ciffc.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=129 (English only).

Learn more about how to fly your drone safely and legally: https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety/learn-rules-you-fly-your-drone/flying-your-drone-safely-legally.

Contact Office:

For more information concerning this issue, contact the RPAS Centre of Expertise at 1-800-305-2059 or TC.RPASCentre-CentreSATP.TC@tc.gc.ca.

Original signed by
Jeremy Fountain

Ryan Coates

RPAS Task Force

The Transport Canada Civil Aviation Safety Alert (CASA) is used to convey important safety information and contains recommended action items. The CASA strives to assist the aviation industry's efforts to provide a service with the highest possible degree of safety. The information contained herein is often critical and must be conveyed to the appropriate office in a timely manner. The CASA may be changed or amended should new information become available.