Transport Canada Drone Exams: Let's Throw Them Out and Start Again!
People have to obey the laws and in this case, passing these drone exams are part of the law related to flying drones over 250 grams. So, even if the exams are dumb, you need to take them and pass them otherwise, youre breaking the law. Okay enough said about that hi im don from dawn drones on. Let me come straight to the point. The questions on the canadian drone exams, both the basic and the advanced, are absolutely ridiculous. Transport canada needs to come to their senses and change the knowledge requirements to focus on drone safety. Not nonsense, like hypoxia lets get into this right now. Tp 15 263 defines the eight knowledge areas for the exams heres how this works. Each knowledge area has a number of knowledge requirements and associated learning objectives based on these transport, canada, working with ground schools and other industry. Brainiacs came up with a pool of exam questions when you take the exam, a random selection of questions are pulled from the pool according to the distribution of questions set for each area. As a result, no two exam experiences are alike. Although you may see some questions more than once, if you take a few attempts to pass, the problem is that so many of the questions are dumb and theyre dumb, because the knowledge areas themselves are dumb, no surprise they are almost identical to the knowledge areas. On the private pilot exam for manned aircraft check it out, the only one extra on the private pilot list is flight instruments and yeah.
They actually buried a bunch of questions about altimeters and air speed indicators into the drone exam. Now why would they mirror manned aircraft requirements so closely? Well, in my opinion, they just got completely off on the wrong foot most, if not all, of the contributors to this exercise were manned aircraft pilots, so they started from what they knew and they started with the notion that drones are aircraft and drone pilots better. Think, like manned aircraft, pilots, and they just got totally carried away, and it seems there was no one on the committees to stop them and say, hang on arent. These people flying machines that can be carried in one hand, most of which are battery powered and operating close to the ground and away from airports. Now im just speculating about this as the root of the problem. Before launching into preparing this video, i reached out to ryan coats, the head of transport canadas rpas team, to discuss the rationale behind the questions heres the email i sent. As i said here, i didnt want this video to be perceived as being a one sided argument. Well, after a nudge ryan, finally answered in short, no thanks, but he did say that his team is open to receiving constructive feedback with respect to the exam questions which would help with some revisions. Theyre planning on making later this year, ive included ryans email address in the description below this video in case you want to voice your opinion, but please keep it civilized, so anyways lacking an actual answer.
Well have to assume that yeah they figured that for drone pilots to be operating safely in the almighty airspace. They better understand as much as possible about how the airspace is structured for manned aircraft, how manned aircraft pilots operate and the issues and challenges facing manned aircraft. Pilots, unfortunately, as i said in my email to ryan, this is absolute hogwash. Its akin to requiring bicycle riders to understand truck gearing systems to be considered safe, cyclists, drone exams should focus on three things. In my opinion, one the drone regulations themselves. Yes, you should be tested on these no question, two, where you can and cannot fly legally and how you can tell and given that were now well out of the 1980s. This should definitely not require us to read vfr charts and third, the exam should test us on the practical elements of safe drone operations, things like preflight checks of the drones propellers and batteries, not the theory behind the rotors or the chemical composition of the batteries. Those are dumb and by the way in case, i forget, as i get all up in a lather here, the most fundamental thing about education, learning and testing is feedback. Tell the person exactly which questions they got wrong and the correct answer. What the were they thinking with this high secrecy around the exam questions and the answers? Even if i pass my exam, i should still be told what i screwed up, so i can understand the correct answer.
What if the only question i answered wrong, was whether it was okay to fly stupidly in controlled airspace? How does anyone learn if you dont get specific and immediate feedback right now? You can get 35 percent of the questions wrong on the basic exam and still be considered a certified drone pilot and no seeing some vague blurb about the knowledge areas you got wrong is not enough. Then theres the advanced exam requiring you to answer 40 out of 50 of these crazy questions correctly in an hour, thats 72 seconds per question, heres what a commercial manned aircraft pilot said about the exam recently pass the advanced exam on. My second attempt, thanks to your videos, im a commercial pilot, manned aviation and i must say, ive struggled with some of the questions and before clicking finish, i was very unsure of my results. The test is hard and even with aviation background, preparation is required now sure the exam certifying you to fly drones in controlled airspace near airports and people. That should not be a cakewalk, but is there a reason it needs to be so challenging that people with extensive aviation experience and who are allowed to fly a manned aircraft in these environments is so challenging. This is totally up. Okay, ive calmed down now, and maybe i should have changed my shirt so lets move on were not allowed to discuss the exam questions themselves. So what i did was walk through every one of the underlying knowledge requirements.
What does a knowledge requirement? Actually look like? Well, back in tp 15 263, as you wade through the knowledge areas, youll see tables like this. The tables contain the knowledge requirements, often but not always backed up with reference numbers into the canadian aviation regulations. Like this one 602.100., mandatory frequency reporting procedures on departure. Yes, thats something that drone pilots should know. According to transport, canada, on the left, we see whether it applies to basic or advanced operations, or both underneath the table are somewhat more drone related learning objectives. Unfortunately, in a lot of the cases, they are only loosely tied to the knowledge requirements. Here we see that drone pilots must be able to recall the minimum operating conditions for vfr flight in uncontrolled airspace. Why do we need to know this? There are 363 knowledge requirements for the advanced exam of which 269 are also applicable to the basic exam and by the way, the reason i have all this data is because i translated it all from the document into an excel spreadsheet a while ago and used it Ruthlessly, to ensure my drone videos covered all of the requirements covering all the knowledge requirements is one of the criteria to be recognized by transport, canada as a drone ground school, and my self paced study program is on that official list. This is a lot of work to put together so ive gone through all 363 requirements, referencing the learning objectives as well and scored each one on what i call dons magic scale of sanity.
Good means it focuses on the right stuff, drone regulations where you can fly or practical, safe drone operations. Okay means its well, maybe a bit off in the weeds, but still a reasonable thing to know. Then the bad ones no need means. It is unnecessary stuff, like the names of clouds, not totally crazy, but certainly not something we should be tested on and finally, dumb and, to be honest, i did use a different word originally ones. I scored as dumb are absolute nonsense. You know like how do how best to settle arguments with your crew. These have absolutely no business being on a drone exam, so heres the result of my analysis. First ill show you. The numbers, then ill share some examples. According to my evaluation, over half the basic exam knowledge requirements are either unnecessary or just plain dumb and should be massively scrubbed to align, to sensible focus areas for the advanced exam requirements. The results are even more startling. Fully 63 of the knowledge requirements are either unnecessary or dumb. Now, to be honest, i was expecting this to be more like 80 dumb going into it. So i was a bit surprised at how many requirements were seemingly reasonable if youre looking for a positive spin there, it is lets, have a look at three examples out of the 61 dumb requirements to see where im coming from and why example, one is actually two Separate dumb knowledge requirements, drone pilots are expected to know the different types of motors brushed, unfortunately spelled wrong, brushless in runner and outrunner, as well as speed controllers and describe the characteristics of them now.
Why do we need to know this in order to fly our drones safely? Do you know the characteristics of different kinds of car or truck motors gasoline diesel? Hybrid? Maybe you do, but who cares? Does it help? You drive your own vehicle more safely with knowing the differences between motor types or speed controllers help you fly more safely, or should you simply be required to know the characteristics of the drone and its motors that you actually fly second example and again it is actually Four requirements all related to what drone manufacturers are required to do to declare their drones to different advanced operations categories. This is not something a drone pilot needs to know at all and by the way, there are no learning objectives tied to these four requirements. Why are they even on the list? Third and last one real easy one in the meteorology area, and it applies only to advanced exams. Thank goodness, pilots are expected to describe the chemical composition of the atmosphere yep. This is dumb, and these are just some of the more obvious ones: how about the function of a helicopters, collective control, the theories of lift and drag or the principle of operation of a pedo tube system. The requirements are riddled with these things theories and other stuff. Thats not necessary for safe drone flying again ive classified 61 requirements as dumb, but then there are another 160 that i consider is unnecessary for a drone exam interesting stuff to know maybe but not needed for the safe operation of a drone and hence should not be On a drone pilot exam so to wrap things up, i recommend transport canada get their heads out of well wherever they are and into the 21st century.
Drone pilots do not need to know everything manned aircraft. Pilots need to know they do not and should not be flying using tools and systems designed for manned aircraft, pilots, stuff, like vfr, charts and metars. These are not suitable for the task. They are not fit for the purpose or even remotely sensible, and as such, we should not be tested against requirements that are focused on areas like that. The knowledge requirements and the exam questions derived from them should be thoroughly scrubbed and refocused on drone regulations where you can fly and safe operation of your drone. To me, it looked like well over half the exam question pool is likely trash. Shame on transport, canada, for putting this nonsense on the table and shame on the industry working group that contributed to it, including ground schools, if youre a drone pilot and feel strongly about this, send your feedback to transport, canada. They say theyre looking for feedback, well give it to them clearly and constructively and politely. The email address is in this in the description below this video. Well thats it. For me, i need to go for a walk to cool off and, yes ill, be doing a similar analysis of the actual drone regulations in the near future.