The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) is extending its membership options to include drone pilots. Membership of COPA will see the Canadian drone community have access to insurance coverage, education and safety courses and more discounts of training options.
COPA’s new development could also help drone pilots receive essential information on drone operation issues within Canada. The move could be a big step forward for incorporating drone operation into the mainstream aviation community within Canada.
The President and CEO of COPA, Christine Gervais, said,
“This is an ideal time to embrace innovation within aviation, especially as many in traditional aviation have been affected by the impacts of COVID-19”.
Incorporating drones in the aviation community
By this point, remotely piloted aircraft have already proven their benefit to many with the aviation world and wider society. Drone operation offers enormous benefits and opportunities for different industries. This could include potentially optimising and creating many new businesses – such as what we’ve seen so far with drone delivery services.
They also have use in emergency services such as search and rescue, disaster management and the collection of data/intelligence. COPA’s latest membership options are an acknowledgement of the growing potential for these aircraft, with Gervais stating, “welcoming the drone community will strengthen the aviation sector”.
However, Canada has some of the world’s strictest drone laws, and the use of drone-flying is regulated. The move from COPA could help represent remotely piloted aircraft users while also ensuring the safe use of drones in Canadian airspace.
This isn’t COPA’s first involvement with drones, either. The organisation has previously participated in drone education awareness campaigns with Canada’s aviation regulator. COPA has also developed drone systems, including the National Research Council of Canada’s drone site selection tool.
Joining COPA as an RPAS (remotely piloted aircraft systems) member offers many potential benefits. Amongst these include:
- Up-to-date news on issues relating to drone operation
- An exclusive insurance program covering commercial and recreational remote aircraft pilots in Canada
- An RPAS scholarship designed to help retrain pilots who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Access to RPAS education materials in the form of webinars, guides and drone-related workshops. COPA’s upcoming Virtual National Fly-In and Aviation Exhibition will feature plenty of RPAS training material.
COPA will now work with groups, such as Transport Canada’s Canadian Drone Advisory Committee (CanaDAC), to enhance the existing regulatory framework surrounding drone use in Canada.
Bridging the gap between traditional and remote aircraft
Helping develop a middle ground between traditional and remote aircraft is a strong impetus behind COPA’s inclusion of RPAS pilots into their membership option. COPA will seek to prevent clashes between the two sides of the modern aviation community, with drone use in Canada increasing yearly.
The organisation sees itself as positioned to help represent both groups due to its history of leading aviation safety in Canada. One key goal for COPA is protecting airspace users of all kinds and ensuring that all aircraft have safe integration into the skies.
They also believe there are more shared common interests between both groups, and the new membership options will protect everyone’s freedom to fly unobstructed. Many have voiced concerns over airspace congestion due to the increasing commercial and personal use of drone technology.
Concerning the apprehension traditional aircraft pilots may feel about the membership development, Gervais stated,
“While fear of these new airspace users does exist, there are more benefits to finding common purpose between traditional and remote aviation. These newcomers to our skies are just getting started, and COPA will help unlock the immense potential of this maturing aviation technology”.
After demonstrating their new focus on RPAS safety within Canada, COPA is focusing on the following seven special areas:
- RPAS pilot training and certification
- RPAS Traffic Management (RTM)
- Beyond Visual Line of Sight Operations (BVLOS)
- RPAS airworthiness
- Detect and avoid
- Search and rescue
- Next-generation RPAS
Depending on its success, COPA’s work and developments in this area may set the framework for future developments in other global aviation associations.
Words by Jonathan Ritchie