I felt just like a kid on Christmas morning. The latest edition of Transport Canada's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) was published today. Not only that, but this was the first issue with the long-awaited RPAS material having a section all of it's own. After a quick review I was left feeling like the document had done it's job at filling in some of the gaps between the Part IX regulations that were published last June, and practical real-world guidance for RPAS operators. Further to that, many of the questions we are often asked in ground school that press upon the ambiguity of the regulations, are finally answered here.
While there is a wealth of material that will be of tremendous help to prospective and current RPAS flight crews, there were some notable items of mention that caught my attention:
Micro (i.e. <250g) RPA guidance
Ever since the arrival of DJI's Mavic Mini we have been run amok with questions about what some people consider a 'regulation checkmate'. The AIM does a nice job at providing some context around CAR 900.06 and this idea of 'Reckless or Negligent' operations. It also ties in some of those more obscure parts of the CARs that apply to all aircraft (i.e. including Micro RPAs.)
Registration Markings Guidance
We know that all aircraft over 250 g need to be registered and marked in Canada, but can you really take a Jiffy Marker and write your registration on your drone? Am I affecting the aircraft's airworthiness, and thereby the manufacture's self-declarations by making a 'modification' to the drone? All these, and more, answered in the AIM.
Lot's of GIS and surveying professionals balk when we mention the requirement for additional approvals when operating LIDAR equipment in Canada. It looks like TC has heard you loud and clear! And I quote:
"If the laser equipment that the operator intends to use is classified as Class 1 or Class 1M, has an average output power of less than 1 mW, and utilizes a non-visible beam, no further assessment or notification is required."
While CAR 901.19 (Fitness of Flight Crew Members) had a blanket policy for not being under the influence of "...drugs impairing a person's faculties...", there was little in the way of a quantifiable metric for Cannabis use. We have a definitive minimum of 12 hours after the consumption of alcohol, but what about Cannabis consumption? The AIM now makes it clear that RPA pilots AND Visual Observers must not have consumed cannabis in the preceding 28 days of an RPAS operation.
Tethered Drone Operations
Lots of brand new information here that adds a lot of clarity on what exactly defines a tethered drone and, depending on your operation, what rules those operations fall under.
'Persons involved in an operation' and 'Bystanders'
Inevitably we always get questions on what defines a bystander vs. someone that is 'involved in the operation' of the RPAS. Now instead of digging out email correspondence between ourselves and Transport, we can point back to the the AIM. Thank-You!
Where do I get it?
You can get the AIM available free-of-charge online as a downloadable PDF on Transport Canada's website.
If you're looking for a hard copy you can order one online at the Calgary Pilot Supply Store *
* I don't get a commission but I believe in supporting great customer service, fast shipping, and a healthy stock - all of which I've always experienced at Calgary Pilot Supply.
AIM - Make it part of your procedures
Don't make the mistake of just using the AIM as a study guide or as a 'go-to' document for answering the on-line exam questions. Make reviewing the AIM a regular part of your procedures. It's only issued twice a year and the very first section conveniently lists all of the changes from the preceding volume allowing you to quickly assess if there is anything that might impact your operation. While the new RPAS section is certainly reason to rejoice, don't forget about the other great practical material available to you in this book. For example:
The GEN section has the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) guidance on incidents and accidents along with regional contact information
If your using NavCanada's Aviation Weather Web Site (AWWS) for your weather and NOTAM assessment, the MET section has the information you need to decode most of the textual and graphical forecasts and observations
Any questions you might have with respect to the 'do's and donts' of airspace will be found in the RAC section
If you want to forego the services of our exceptional Weather Briefers (i.e. 1-866-WX-BRIEF) and try and tackle those NOTAMS yourself, you'll be able to decode them using the MAP section of the AIM. (In fact I've been spending a lots of time in here lately since NavCanada's transition to the ICAO NOTAM format).
Remember - An informed flight crew member is a GOOD flight crew member!
Test your AIM knowledge
Now's a perfect time to get into the AIM and have a good look around so that you feel comfortable using it. Once you're ready take our 'AIM High' quiz to see how good you are!
1 - 15 | A Flytbox ground school is in your future.
16-20 | You're getting there....But not quite.
21-23 | Nicely done.
24-25 | Is Maverick your middle name?