Last updated on October 31st, 2019 at 12:23 pm
Paramotoring isn't a popular sport in Canada, and the stats for this website show that only 3.7% of visitors are coming from Canada. I think I know where the problem lies, and that same problem is grinding the gears of a few Canadian instructors.
The main problem is tighter regulations and licensing, but is it really that difficult to get your license? And is it really necessary? Let's find out..
In Canada, paramotoring is regulated under Transport Canada (TC). Anybody that wants to fly a paramotor there, must follow a simple list of regulatory requirements. TC say that if you fail to follow these requirements, you could be smacked with a hefty fine.
What is transport Canada?
Transport Canada is a department that's controlled by the government of Canada. The department is responsible for developing regulations, policies and services for all types of transportation in Canada.
They have the authority to put laws, regulations, standards and policies in place, this includes setting standards for the testing and licensing of pilots.
Canada paramotor rules
So what does it take to get your paramotoring license in Canada?
In Canada, paramotors are basically treated the same as ultralight aircraft. You will need to obtain a permit, but you will be restricted to flying powered paragliders.
You'll need to be at least 16 years of age, and you'll have two choices:
- You can get a temporary permit (usually for pilots that are only in Canada for a short time)
- Or you can get a permanent one, which is called a continuing permit.
You'll start out by doing the exact same training as pilots in other countries. This training will get you ready to fly, but before you can solo the paramotor, you'll need to get a student-pilot permit.
To get your student-pilot permit you'll need a medical certificate, but this certificate is a self declaration. This means that you won't need the doctor to run physical tests before he signs you off as fit to fly, as you would with many other forms of aviation.
Within 2 years of getting your student permit you will need to complete a minimum of 5 hours of flight time, including a minimum of 30 takeoffs and landings. This should be under the direction and supervision of an instructor that holds a valid flight instructor rating.
Training must be a minimum of 20 hours in length of time, and it must cover air law, practices and procedures, aerodynamics, air navigation, meteorology, engines, air frames, flight instruments, flight operations, human factors, pilot decision-making process, and emergency procedures.
By the end of your 20 hours of training you will need to be competent pilot, with all of the practical and theoretical knowledge required to fly without an instructor.
Training can be longer if needs be, so if you aren't ready, or you don't feel confident enough to pilot a paramotor, you must take additional training.
There's heaps of information on this website, and a training eBook HERE to help you through the whole of your pilot training.
When you've completed your training, your instructor will contact Transport Canada to let them know you have met the minimum requirements for licensing.
You'll then sit an 80 question written examination at the Transport Canada office. You'll have 3 hours to complete it and the pass grade is 60%. If you pass you'll get your permit which will be endorsed with "parachutes only."
Or, if you fail, you can easily retake your test, but you must wait 14 days before reapplying.
I've never taken the test, but I've contacted Canadian pilots who all tell me that the test is very easy, and that anybody who studies for a few days should have no problem passing it.
What are you tested on during the exam?
When you sit the exam, you'll be tested on all of the following:
- Air law
- Practices and procedures
- Air navigation
- Air frames
- Flight instruments
- Flight operations
- Human factors
- Pilot decision-making process
- Emergency procedures
Check out the Transport Canada study and reference guide for people who want to obtain their ultralight aircraft pilot permit HERE. You'll find all of the areas that you'll be tested on, and some handy recommended study material.
So that's it, you've got your license!
The only difference between Canada and other countries is the medical certificate, the student permit, and the exam. To be fair, pilots in other countries don't need to meet minimum flight times throughout training, but most will probably clock up more than 5 hours anyway.
What else is required to paramotor in Canada?
After training is complete you will need to get your paramotor registered with Transport Canada. This is very simple and all you'll need to do is fill out a form and send it off, along with your medical certificate.
You'll then receive a registration number that you will need to display on your paramotor at all times. You'll also need to affix a Bilingual placard, which must be in plain sight of the pilot at all times.
The placard will state:
"This aeroplane is operating without a certificate of airworthiness/Cet avion est utilisé sans certificat de navigabilité"
This is basically a "fly at your own risk" notice, to tell pilots that the paramotor has not passed any strict safety tests like many aircraft must.
The last thing you need to have is liability insurance that covers you up to $100,000. This insurance is very cheap, in the UK I pay the equivalent of $160 per year.
Restricted operator certificate with aeronautical qualification
Many pilots use walkie talkies to communicate, but Transport Canada insist that operators of radiotelephone equipment on board aircraft use a two-way aviation radio. This is so that other aircraft will be able to hear you, and know of your presence.
You can find lots of information on radios in THIS POST.
In Canada, in order to communicate using a two-way aviation radio, pilots must pass an exam to obtain a restricted operator certificate. This certificate is issued by Industry Canada, and the exam will usually take place at the Industry Canada offices.
The examination will usually consist of written, practical and oral exercises, and you must show the examiner that you:
- Are capable of operating radiotelephone equipment.
- Posses a general knowledge of radiotelephone operating procedures and of international regulations applicable to the aeronautical service, specifically those regulations relating to the safety of life; and
- That you poses a general knowledge of the Radio communication Act and the regulations made there-under.
You can find all of the information that you will need to pass the restricted operator exam on the Industry Canada website HERE.
How much will it cost to become a paramotor pilot in Canada?
Your biggest cost will be your training. The prices vary between instructors, but the price averages out at about $1200 for all of the practical training, and to get you soloing.
Most instructors will also be required to throw in a little theory for this price, but Transport Canada will provide all the resources you need to successfully pass the written exam.
There is a cost to take the exam which we'll get to shortly, but gaining the knowledge you need to pass it shouldn't cost you anything extra, besides a little time.
I've already mentioned that this will not apply to everyone, usually just pilots who are in Canada for a short period.
To get a temporary permit, you'll still need to pass the exam, medical, etc, so in my opinion you're better off just paying the extra to get the continuing permit. This way you can go back to Canada and fly whenever you like.
You'll be awarded a permit after completing the ultralight Exam (ULTRA) at a Flight School or at a Transport Canada Facility. This costs about $80 which includes the price of the exam.
Medical Examination and certificate
When you visit a doctor for an examination, it will cost you around $100. This will obviously vary depending on where you go and who you see.
When the doctor signs you off as fit, you can apply for a category 4 medical certificate, which will cost you another $40.
A category 4 medical is held by all recreational pilots, and is obtained by filling out a self declaration form with any doctor. This self declaration can then be sent to Transport Canada with the appropriate medical certificate application form.
Insurance prices will vary depending on the company you choose. Based off my own insurance policy with AXA, you can expect to pay around the $160 mark.
Transport Canada has been carrying out checks at small airports, so don't skip this part. If you're found to be flying without insurance, you could loose your permit.
As previously mentioned, you can send off your registration form along with your medical certificate to obtain your registration number. There is a charge of $65, and this will need to be done every time you get a new paramotor.
It's important to note that not all paramotors can be registered. Transport Canada will need to see:
- A document certifying the title of the paramotor (for example a receipt of sale),
- And a photo of the paramotors data plate clearly showing the name of the manufacturer, the model, and serial number.
This means that you probably won't get away with registering self-built paramotors, or a paramotor that doesn't contain any of the above. This is Transport Canada's way of ensuring that only safe paramotors are being flown in the country.
Restricted operator certificate
The restricted operator certificate with aeronautical qualification will require training, and the written examination. The exam is very simple, and consists of just 25 multiple choice questions.
For training, and the examination, you can expect to pay around $100. You can get started by finding locations where they will be holding training HERE.
This all totals at around $1685. This sounds pricey, but this does include your training, so people in the US for example, are only paying about $485 less to get in the air.
For the freedom that paramotoring gives, I really couldn't argue with this price. It's still the cheapest form of flight, and this small amount extra is well worth it.
Don't forget, once it's done, that's it! You can fly for as many years as you want with no extra costs, unlike many pilots who will need yearly examinations, biannual medicals, and annual aircraft inspections.
So even though there's a little more involved in becoming a pilot in Canada, Canadian paramotor pilots still have it pretty good!
Do you really need to get a license to paramotor in Canada?
If you've been looking into paramotoring in Canada you've probably come across Jean Gauthier. Jean has been flying in Canada for many years without a license, and he believes that a license is not necessary.
Jean is against licensing because he believes it’s entirely unnecessary, and that Canada Transport is a hoax. He believes they don’t have the intention to enforce the fines they’ve stated to incur should anyone fly without a license.
So does this mean you don't need to get a license?
Transport Canada has the authority to introduce paramotor regulations, and although Jean hasn't been fined yet, it could certainly happen if it went to court. It seems Transport Canada don't want the regulations to be challenged in court, so they refuse to enforce this in most cases.
Notice I said in most cases, as there are stories of people having all of their equipment confiscated by Transport Canada. I'm not sure whether these stories are true, but when obtaining your licence is so simple, I don't see any reason to risk it.
I know many of you will decide to fly without a license, and that’s entirely up to you. But realize that you may be caught, and you may end you up in a lot of trouble. This is especially true if an accident occurs while you're unlicensed.
What's the difference learning to paramotor in the US compared to Canada?
All pilots need training, and the practical part of training will be exactly the same as in Canada.
Most pilots opt for insurance. Although insurance isn't a necessity in most other countries, most pilots still choose to get it just in case the unthinkable happens.
All it takes is an engine failure and a strong wind to blow you into somebodies property. This could end up costing you thousands, so get most pilots will choose to pay the small amount each year.
So the only extra is the student permit, the exam, the medical, and the registration.
The student permit, the medical, and the registration are very straight forward, so is it really just the exam that's holding Canadians back from learning to paramotor?
All paramotor pilots should understand things like air law, navigation, aerodynamics, meteorology etc. Before I took my first flights outside of training, I spent two months reading up on the theoretical side of paramotoring, I think this made me a better pilot initially.
Revising for the exam shouldn't be anything different than this, and it will most definitely make you a better and safer pilot. And if you have a passion for flying, and a love of paramotoring, learning these things will be quite enjoyable!
With a good instructor you won't be expected to learn these things outside of training like I did. In Canada this is an essential part of training, so everything asked in the exam will be taught to you by your instructor.
One more thing that could be holding people back is the lack of training options. There aren't many instructors in Canada, so you may need to travel a long way to get trained.
Unfortunately the sport is very weather dependant, so booking time off work to fit in with training can be a problem. This is an obstacle many pilots in the UK also face, and booking off flyable days at the last minute is difficult.
I've been there and I know how hard it is, but if you want it bad enough you'll find a way!
Go get your license!
Thanks for checking out paramotor Canada!
If you've decided to pursue the sport you'll need some gear, so start by checking out some paramotor helmets HERE.
Or learn some great tips and tricks HERE.