Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (Drones)

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), often known as drones, are commonly used for recreational, commercial and research purposes. In Canada, remotely piloted aircraft are considered aircraft under the Aeronautics Act and use of RPAS is governed under the Canadian Aviation Regulations.     


The use of RPAS on campus poses potential health, safety and privacy risks to the campus community, therefore the purpose of this guideline is to ensure all use of RPAS or drones on University property is safe and in accordance with all applicable regulations and guidelines. No use of an RPAS may occur without prior consultation, registration and approval of University of Waterloo Special Constable Service and the Safety Office.


This guideline applies to all faculty, staff, students, visitors and contractors who intend to use an RPAS or Small RPAS, excluding Microdrones on or above University property for any purpose. It will also apply during the hiring or contracting of any RPAS services by the University.

This Guideline requires the approval of the University of Waterloo prior to the piloting of an RPAS on campus. Refer to Transport Canada’s instructions regarding legal requirements.


Microdrone means a drone that weighs under 250 grams.

Remotely piloted aircraft means a navigable aircraft, other than a balloon, rocket or kite, that is operated by a pilot who is not on board

Remotely piloted aircraft system or RPAS means a set of configurable elements consisting of a remotely piloted aircraft, its control station, the command and control links and any other system elements required during flight operation

Small remotely piloted aircraft means a remotely piloted aircraft that has a maximum take-off weight of at least 250 g (0.55 pounds) but not more than 25 kg (55 pounds)


  1. All RPAS use shall follow the Transport Canada Aviation Safety Standards and Canadian Aviation Regulations. The use of RPAS shall also respect all applicable federal, municipal, and provincial laws.
  2. RPAS are only permitted to be used on campus for approved University purposes and require approval of the Safety Office and University of Waterloo Special Constable Service. An application form and approval is required for each RPAS flight (download application form).
  3. RPAS Operators will complete an application form and provide the completed package of documents to the Safety Office 14 days in advance of the proposed use date. Departmental approvals must be in place prior to submission. 
  4. RPAS Cameras will only be used to film outdoors in public spaces. As with any filming or photography on University property, Creative Services should be consulted regarding privacy and consent in advance, and appropriate signage must be posted at access points. Normally, advance notice of one week must be given.
  5. For flights in controlled airspace (i.e. Health Sciences Campus), the pilot must have a small RPAS Advanced Operations pilot certificate and clearance from NAV Canada(
  6. Without an SFOC, an RPAS shall not operate higher than 122 m from the ground, or more than 30 m above any building or structure if it is being operated at a distance of less than 61 m, measured horizontally, from the building or structure.
  7. RPAS must only be operated outdoors, within continuous, unaided visual contact of the RPAS operator, during daylight (unless equipped with approved lighting) and in good weather conditions. Any indoor use must be approved by the space owner (i.e. Faculty or department), must be appropriate to RPAS size and operation, and must not present a safety risk.
  8. Non-University of Waterloo RPAS operators must confirm that adequate liability insurance is in place prior to operation. University Liability Insurance: Only RPAS owned by the University of Waterloo and operated by University of Waterloo faculty, registered students and staff for approved university-related activities are covered under the University’s general liability insurance.
  9. The RPAS operator must carry RPAS applicable exemption information and RPAS system limitations.
  10. RPAS are not permitted to fly over crowds on or above University property unless their license permits such use.
  11. The RPAS operator shall immediately cease all operations if the use is no longer in compliance with all certificates, approvals, exemptions or legal obligations, or if the safety of a person, property or other aircraft is at risk.
  12. The University will normally notify the RPAS operator of his/her decision at least 7 days prior to the proposed use date.
  13. The University’s consent provides the operator with authority to pilot an RPAS in the permitted space and not elsewhere.
  14. If the RPAS is to be used for University purposes by a faculty or staff member of the University anywhere other than on University property, advance written notification to the applicable owners and occupiers of the property must be provided and their written approval must be obtained prior operation. In all cases, the applicable Transport Canada regulations must be followed.