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Northern Ontario’s first advanced drone course

Northern Ontarians will be able to get drone flight certification much easier thanks to a North Bay company.

SafeSight Exploration usually provides training for those in the mining sector so workers can fly drones underground where GPS is not available.

Mike Campigotto, President of SafeSight Exploration, says there was an increasing demand for drone certifications both below and above ground.

As we’ve been doing that over the last couple of years, more and more sights when we go in to train them how to fly drones underground without GPS, they’re asking if our instructors could also certify them in above-ground flight – kill two birds with one stone,” he said.

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A recent agreement with Transport Canada has opened the door for SafeSight to offer above-ground drone certification.

“Over the last couple of months, we’ve set up a curriculum and got approval from Transport Canada to create an advanced certification for pilots above ground,” Campigotto said.

Above ground drone use is a growing demand for people in the area, which Campigotto is hoping to address.

“We were hearing from entrepreneurs and folks in the community about the fact that they’d essentially have to bring someone up or go down to southern Ontario to get their advanced certification because there was nobody who offered it in the north,” he explained.

Drone certifications fall under two categories according to Transport Canada: basic and advanced.

Basic drone operation allows for users to fly in uncontrolled airspace, no less than 30 metres horizontally from bystanders, and not directly over top. Basic certification requires an online exam that grants users a registration number for their drones.

Advanced certification is needed when the requirements of the basic operations are not able to be met. Certification involves an online test as well as an in-person flight review.

If the drone is less than 250 grams, then the basic and advanced operation rules do not apply.

Campigotto says that more industries are looking at drone applications, which he hopes will bring more people in to get certified.

“Whether it’s sports and entertainment, the real estate industry, construction et cetera, there’s more and more application for above-ground drones whether you’re doing a topographical survey or preparing content for real estate sales,” he explained.

Campigotto says that SafeSight is simply repurposing its resources for more people to be able to utilize.

“We haven’t really tried to launch this as a business for hobbyists but we did think while we’ve got this capability and while it’s not being used by the mining sector, why not offer it to those who would otherwise have to wait for someone to come up from a COVID hotspot?” he said.

SafeSight offers four-day in-class certification courses in addition to flight training at its facility. Campigotto says that there is not an online version of the class available yet. 

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