You are now in the main content area

Drone Safety & Authorization Requirements

Looking down onto the Toronto Metropolitan University Quad.

Basic drone operations are prohibited on the TMU campus, as Toronto Metropolitan University falls into controlled airspace because of the proximity of Billy Bishop Airport and two hospital heliports. An Advanced Operations Certificate with air traffic control approval is required before operating in controlled airspace.

The purpose of this Drone Safety guideline is to administer the usage of drones at Toronto Metropolitan University, to ensure adherence to all applicable regulations and/or guidelines that govern them, and to understand the importance of flying a drone responsibly to avoid harming others.

What is a drone?

Drones are aerial vehicles that fly using four sharp rotating blades. They are piloted using a remote controller. Drones are often referred to as remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Most drones are equipped with a camera. 

In Canada, there are two main categories of drone operation: basic and advanced. Each one has a different set of rules drone pilots must follow. The weight of the drone, distance from bystanders and airspace rules define the category. The rules do not treat people who fly drones for fun or for business differently.

Basic operations 

If you meet all 5 of these conditions, you're conducting basic operations:

  1. You fly it in uncontrolled airspace.
  2. You fly it more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders.
  3. You never fly it over bystanders.
  4. You fly it more than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or a military aerodrome.
  5. You fly it more than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport.

Advanced operations

If you do not meet any one of these five basic conditions, you are conducting advanced operations. 

Basic drones operations are prohibited to fly around TMU since TMU falls into controlled airspace. All drone operations on TMU’s campus are considered advanced operations. Therefore, this guide focuses on advanced drone operations.

TMU recognizes the increasing use of drones for teaching, personal, commercial and research purposes. The use of drones falls under the Canadian Aviation Regulations and the regulations differ depending upon the weight of the device, the equipment attached and the intended purpose.

All faculty, staff and students using drones for teaching and research must be aware of and follow all federal regulations that govern the operation and use of drones, regardless of where they fly them.

Requirements outlined here are applicable to areas affiliated with Toronto Metropolitan University where drones may be operated by any person, including members of the public, visitors, faculty, staff, students or contractors.

As legislation does not apply to indoor or underground drone operations, permission from faculty, school, department, space owner and/or FMD will be required if you intend to fly drones indoors.

Applicable legislation includes but is not limited to: 

For drones operating in any controlled air space as is the case at TMU, permission from air traffic control or NAV CANADA is required prior to operation. NAV CANADA is the company that owns and operates Canada’s civil air navigation service (ANS).  Drones cannot be operated in controlled airspace unless a written RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft system) Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA is received.

Drone or Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV): An aircraft vehicle that is controlled or piloted remotely in the absence of on-board personnel. This includes but is not limited to drones, quadcopters and model aircraft.

Operator: In respect of an aircraft, this refers to the person who has possession of the aircraft as owner, lessee or user.

Supervisor: Someone who has charge of a workplace or has authority over a worker. Individuals who serve as a point of contact between TMU and external parties will be responsible to overlook the project or worker, thus assuming the duties of a supervisor.


Supervisors are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that any operation of UAVs under their supervision complies with the procedural requirements outlined on this page
  • Ensuring that Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is provided any supportive documentation required for the safe operation of drones
  • Taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers and students

Drone Pilot or Operator

 Drone/UAV Pilot or Operators are responsible for:

  • Following the procedural requirements prior to operating a drone 
  • Completing all drone registration, licensing or certification processes outlined by Transport Canada and applicable legislation
  • Displaying or submitting documentation specific to operation upon request 
  • Receiving appropriate TMU approvals and providing notifications (please see section on procedure prior to operating a drone)
  • Reporting all injuries, incidents and/or hazardous situations to their supervisor immediately
  • Taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to safely operate the drone/UAV for the protection of students and workers 

Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) 

EHS is responsible for:

  • Providing guidance to drone/UAV operators regarding Drone Safety on campus
  • Managing the inventory registry for drones at TMU
  • Reviewing documentation provided by applicants

For drones weighing 250 grams (g) up to 25 kilograms (kg), registration with Transport Canada (external link)  is required. Drones must be marked with identification/registration numbers as required accordingly before they fly. 

Pilots must facilitate the appropriate use of drones or equipment based on the type of operation conducted. For example, when a drone weighs more than 25 kg or operates outside the rules for specific purposes, a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) (external link)  is required.

 (PDF file) Micro-drones (external link)  are drones weighing less than 250 g. The weight of the remote control is not factored into the weight calculation, but the weight of anything attached or carried, such as optional cameras or safety cages, will be considered part of the weight.

Pilots of micro drones do not need to register their drone or get a drone pilot certificate to fly them. Pilots of micro drones are not bound by the same requirements as other drones. However, you must not operate your drone in a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger aviation safety or the safety of anyone. In most cases, approval from Transport Canada is required to fly a micro-drone near TMU because of our proximity to airports and heliports.

Because basic drone operation is not possible on TMU campus, all users who manage and/or intend to operate a drone on campus must:

  1. Understand your legal requirements when flying drones (external link) 
  2. Understand the difference between basic operations (external link)  and advanced (external link)  operations
  3. Get the necessary knowledge requirements (external link) 
  4. Get a drone pilot certificate (external link)  (look for advanced operations)
  5. Choose the right drone (external link)  (important for those with advanced operations certification)
  6. Register your drone (external link)  with Transport Canada before flying for the first time and mark your drone with its registration number
  7. Obtain liability insurance documents 
  8. Follow your drone manufacturer’s instructions
  9. Pass a flight review (external link)  with a flight reviewer
  10. Survey the area (external link)  where you will fly (take note of any obstacles, such as buildings and power lines)
  11. Seek permission from air traffic control (request an RPAS Flight Authorization (external link)  from NAV CANADA)
  12. Complete the  (google form) TMU Drone Inventory Form (external link)  which will require uploading the above noted documentation
  13. Provide notification to Community Safety and Security about drone operations (proof of pilot certification/credentials must be made available upon request). 
  14. Notify Toronto Police (51 Division) by calling their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. 
  15. Depending on the nature of operation, you may need additional authorization from the faculty, school, department or space owner. 
  16. Individuals who wish to operate drones indoors within Toronto Metropolitan University spaces must receive approval from their department or the space owner prior to operation. Approval may be subject to specific safety requirements.
  1. Pilots operating on TMU campus must first ensure that they qualify to fly on campus and have been granted special permission (external link)  to fly in the prohibited (controlled airspace) zone 
  2. Prior to operation, it is the pilot’s responsibility to conduct a survey of the site that accounts for the following:
    • The boundaries for area of operation
    • Airspace type and applicable legislative requirements 
    • The routes and altitude pertaining to the area of operation
    • The proximity to manned aircraft operations such as aerodromes, airports and heliports
    • The presence of obstacles, including wires, masts, buildings, cell phone towers and wind turbines 
    • Predominant weather and environmental conditions for the area of operation 
    • Horizontal distances from persons not involved in the operation 
  3. Pilots must be able to maintain the drone with Visual Line-Of-Sight (VLOS) (external link)  at all times during operation. 
  4. To keep yourself and others safe, fly your drone:
    • below 122 meter (400 feet) above the ground
    • away from emergency operations and advertised events
      • Avoid outdoor concerts and parades
    • away from airports and heliports
    • far away from other aircraft
      • Don’t fly anywhere near airplanes, helicopters and other drones

Contact EHS for Any Drone-Related Inquiry

If you are a supervisor or participant with questions about drones, please contact EHS for additional support at 416-979-5000, ext. 553770 or