As seen by the many memes and posts across the internet, there is a real wave of calling "drone pilots" a joke. Calling drone operators pilots, for some, conjures up images of under-qualified persons flying drones and saying to all of their friends and family they're full fledged mavericks and pilots, while traditional pilots (like myself) took time and effort to get our pilots licence(s), ratings, etc...
As defined on the Transport Canada website, a PIC (Pilot in Command) is defined by as "The pilot having responsibility and authority for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight time.". Furthermore, the Transport Canada definition for aircraft is defined as "Any machine, including a rocket, capable of deriving support in the atmosphere from reactions of the air". So from a definition standpoint, yes, commercial operators of drones are legally deemed "pilots". To prove this even further, Transport Canada calls drone pilots pilots as viewed from their site here on the Pilot knowledge requirements for UAV's (link).
While they are not be flying friends and family around, drone pilots are indeed, well, pilots! Just not in the traditional sense. (I still think being an actual PPL pilot is more badass).
Having your UAV SFOC, or PPL, etc... We are ALL responsible for the safety and wellbeing of our operations, and must remember to work together to keep airspace open, secure and safe for everyone!
Henry is the founder and operator of Air Support Aerial Photography. Here he talks about A.S.A.P. news, drone industry news, and opinion pieces!