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I was flying near CYPK the other day and for convenience and since I was close to it, reported as being "above the blasting area". My instructor pointed out better not to do that. That made me think about the legality of flying above a blasting area but I couldn't find anything about that, neither in the AIM, nor in the CAR.

On my VTA a blasting area is shown as a "striped circle", similar to a circular special use airspace. The CFS legend for that symbol says "CAUTION BLASTING AREA. Do not overfly at less than 3000' AGL". The CFS entry for Pitt Meadows CYPK says "Quarry blasting ops ... to 300 AGL".

Obviously it's a good idea to stay away from a blasting area and having read a bit about it since then, I won't fly over it below ~3500' in the future. For closure and future reference I would like to know:

What are the Canadian regulations around flying over/near blasting areas?

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  • $\begingroup$ Does the CFS actually say 3000' AGL, or AMSL? I would think it would have to be an impressive blast to be a threat to aircraft 3000' above the ground. $\endgroup$ – pericynthion Aug 5 at 5:06
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Blasting areas are not subject to particular regulation, they can be depicted on charts and/or announced by NOTAMs (code for blasting is WH, compliant to ICAO standard).

The blaster operator always ensures the area is clear of traffic prior to firing. The imminent blast may also be announced 4 and 1 minute(s) prior to the operation on 123.2 MHz. In case an aircraft is seen, the blaster operator will also use this frequency to inform the pilot of the blasting operation. See below for details.

It's pilot responsibility to remain clear of these areas:

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Source: AIP Canada


Known permanent blasting activities can be depicted on VFR charts and announced by NOTAM until charts can be updated. From AIP Canada:

The “VFR Chart Updating Data” section of the CFS provides a means of notifying VFR chart users of significant aeronautical information to update the current VFR aeronautical charts. In this regard, significant aeronautical information is considered to be that which affects the safety of VFR operation, e.g. obstructions, restricted and advisory areas, blasting operations, cable crossings, and new or revised control zones. New or revised information of this nature, which is required to be depicted on visual charts, is advertised by NOTAM until such time as the information can be published in the “VFR Chart Updating Data” section of the CFS. Subsequently, the NOTAM is cancelled.

However temporary or itinerant blasting activities may not be advertised. From the Canadian AIM:

Another concern to low flying is the blasting operations associated with the logging industry. The trajectory of debris from the blasting varies with the type of explosives, substance being excavated and the canopy of trees, if any. These blasting activities may or may not be advertised by NOTAM.

More details are given in the NOTAM Operating Procedures, chapter 5.5.5:

In the Pacific Region, NOTAM are not issued for blasting related to logging activities under the following circumstances:

  • If using instantaneous blasting equipment.(The blasters will ensure the area is clear of all air traffic prior to the blast.)

  • If using a standard 6 minute-fuse and using aeronautical frequency radio. (The blasting operator will make two transmissions on 123.2 MHz advising of the imminent blast. These transmissions will be at approximately 4 minutes and 1 minute prior to the estimated blast. These transmissions will include the geographical location referenced to prominent landmark and the time to the blast.)

If blasters detect an aircraft in the immediate vicinity of a blast, they will direct a radio transmission to that aircraft using aircraft type and colour ("Red and white helicopter, you are over an active blast site; clear the area immediately.").

Blasters may elect to use both methods for added safety.

A NOTAM will be required if the blast site is within 5 nautical miles of an aerodrome or if the blaster elects not to use either of the above procedures. In any case, the NOTAM will have a maximum duration period of 14 days.


Minimum safe altitudes don't take blast risk into account. From the Canada Air Pilot publication:

"CYA, CYR and known blasting areas are not considered in the establishment of MSA altitudes. For this reason, it is the pilot’s responsibility to remain clear of these areas as applicable"

Source: Canada Air Pilot

More: See this discussion: Quarry blasting not regulated for aviation safety purposes.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "CYA... remain clear of these areas". Frankly, that sounds like good advice! :) $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Sep 12 '17 at 18:21

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