cinqque5tion with Yifei Zhao (By: Jovin Tardif)

cinqque5tion2020 yifei zhao altex academy operations director

cinqque5tion2020 with Operations Director Yifei Zhao

cinqque5tion with Yifei Zhao

Back in high school, I was part of the audiovisual (A/V) club.  Well, sort of… The A/V club are students who would be entrusted to handle tech equipment. For example, film and slide projectors, the PA system in the auditorium, the lighting for special events, the microphones for assemblies, etc. The A/V club would take care of technological needs wherever it was needed.  I said sort of earlier because I was a bit of an outsider.  Over time, I was given the title of coordinator because I would step in whenever there was a need for photography, videography, lighting or musical assistance, etc.  Let’s just say in other words, I would assist the A/V club when necessary.  Therefore, I was given a few slight advantages for being tech-savvy.  The teachers really enjoyed my creativity and would allow me to use the camera equipment off-site.  This memory sort of came back to mind as I think about the advancement of technology.  For example. back when I wanted to do a unique camera angle from up high, I would have to carry a large video camera with VHS tape over my shoulder and film from the roof of a building or a chairlift at a ski resort.  Now in 2020, we have cranes or drones.  Wow!  The sky is the limit and the views are incredible.  However, rules should be reviewed before operating a drone.  Let’s find out more about the training you can receive at Altex Academy.  Today my guest is Yifei Zhao from AlteX Academy.  We met at ProFusion Expo 2019.

AlteX Academy is a Transport Canada compliant Drone/RPAS training facility. They assist drone operators to achieve Safe, Efficient and Effective flight operations.  They are located at 27-25 Valleywood Dr, Markham, Ontario, L3R 5L9.


#whatonwhatsgood presents: #cinqquestion with Yifei Zhao (by: Jovin Tardif)

1. Good morning Yifei Zhao. Can you tell us how you got into the drone business?

We were doing a lot of remote location filming back in 2009 – 2010. It was difficult carrying heavy film equipment to remote locations. As a result, we were looking for an alternative solution to achieve a better camera angle but with less equipment.  That’s when we came across drones. It seemed to be the perfect solution.

Check out this video of our remote location filming adventures.

2. Some people wonder if they really need a drone license? Does someone enforce this requirement? Yifei Zhao, is there a fine for not having a license?

I look at this almost like a Driver’s License. The moment someone drives a car on the road, they need a driver’s license.  Could they get stopped by the police? Probably not every time. However, if they do, or an accident/incident happens, they will be required to produce a license. That’s the same with drones. Anyone wishing to fly a drone that weighs more than 250g needs a pilot certificate. In short, enforcement can come from Transport Canada or local law enforcement, followed by a fine.

yifei zhao altex academy operations director

Transport Canada – Penalties

You could face serious penalties, including fines and/or jail time if you break the rules.

Fines for individuals Without a drone pilot certificate up to $1,000 Unregistered or unmarked drones up to $1,000 Flying where you are not allowed up to $1,000 Putting aircraft and people at risk up to $3,000
Fines for corporations Flying without a drone pilot certificate up to $5,000 Unmarked or unregistered up to $5,000 Going where you are not permitted up to $5,000 Putting people or an aircraft at risk up to $15,000 *If you break more than one rule, you could receive multiple penalties.

yifei zhao altex academy operations director

3. How can we improve our Drone Operations with Flight Training?

Drone technology has become more and more automated in recent years. These automated machines made pilots wonder why you would need drone training. The answer to this is simple.  With high-level automation, there is a bigger need to understand the equipment and workflow so pilots can manage the automated process. With professional-led training, you can improve pilot skills more efficiently and put that learning time towards effective operations.

Taking a Drone Flight Course is an essential step to improve your drone operations and skills.

yifei zhao altex academy operations director

Drone technology (Information gathered from Altex Academy)

Conduct Basic Flight Dynamics

A main part of flying is control. Whether it is thrust, pitch, yaw or roll, these basic flight dynamics may seem easy on paper but surprisingly difficult to achieve precisely in-flight. Most beginner pilots find the drone drifting in-flight as they are directed to fly straight. This is because the drone’s joystick controls are designed to control multiple flight dynamics with a single joystick. Without practice and direction, pilots can easily move the joystick in an undesired direction without knowing.

Apply Regulation and Safety Procedures

Flight Training also allows pilots to apply regulations and safety procedures in a practical environment. This can help pilots better understand theoretical knowledge and what they mean for flight operations.  

Interpret and Manage Flight Control Settings

In addition to basic flight control and air law, professional drone training provides detailed flight control training.  This helps pilots to accurately understand the various system settings on a drone and make necessary adjustments to achieve desired results. A thorough understanding of flight control settings makes for smooth flight operations.

Using Automated Flight Modes

As drone technology advances, many useful automatic features have been introduced to improve flight performance. Knowing when and how to use these automated flight modes enables pilots to achieve professional results such as dynamic film shots or precision surveys.

Analyze Data Processing

Capturing drone data is only the first step. Being able to process and use the data to make important business decisions is just as important. With AlteX Flight Training, students are introduced to professional software and see how drone data is processed to produce results. Data-processing also allows drone pilots to analyze their flight settings to understand areas needing improvement.

Taking a Drone Flight Training Course with AlteX is a great start to becoming a professional drone pilot. Investing in drone flight training is setting the foundation for your drone career, providing you with valuable knowledge and skills that will benefit for years to come.  Structured, professional training is designed to assist drone pilots to learn essential skills, improve flight performance and avoid potentially costly errors.

yifei zhao altex academy operations director

4. How do we obtain a Pilot Certificate? Basic or Advanced?

For Basic: Take Transport Canada’s online RPAS/Drone Pilot exam. Our Ground Ground School prepares students for the exam.

For Advanced: Pass the Advanced online RPAS/Drone Pilot exam, in addition, take an in-person flight review (essentially a flight test). AlteX is authorized to conduct flight reviews on behalf of Transport Canada.

Transport Canada Drone Rules

Transport Canada’s new drone rules came into effect on June 1st, 2019. A drone pilot certificate, also known as drone license is required for anyone flying a drone that weighs more than 250 grams. If you’d like to fly legal or become a professional drone pilot, here are the key things to know about Canada’s drone license.

As per Transport Canada, “drones are aircraft—which makes you a pilot.  Before you fly, you must understand the rules.  You must follow and review the safety tips enforced by Transport Canada.  Drone pilots must carry a valid drone pilot certificate and only fly drones that are marked and registered. If you are flying a drone that is less than 250 grams, you do not need to register the drone or get a drone pilot certificate.”

With a background in health and safety, I needed to investigate the legal requirements.  You might want to check them out too.  Here is some information when flying drones, flying your drone safely, penalties and tips for first-time pilots and useful terms to know

5. Can you describe some of the drones that are currently on the market?

For consumer/prosumer drones, DJI is currently the largest manufacturer. They offer a full line up of drones from entry-level to enterprise level. DJI gives creators to give the tools needed to bring ideas to life.

For higher grade professional drones, we recommend going through an enterprise dealer to better plan out the operations. There are very specialized companies that provide solutions to different industries. Such as precision surveys, thermal applications, etc.


6. What kind of drone would you recommend to new users?

DJI Mavic Mini is the only drone under 250g with a decent camera and flight control so people can try the technology without a pilot certificate.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a good entry pro-level drone that we recommend to pilots starting to offer professional services.  

What kind of drone would you recommend to advanced users

DJI Inspire 2 is a great drone for a mid-level filmmaker.

For more high-end units, Freefly systems provide heavy-lift for Red Camera and Arri Alexa Mini.

7. Yifei Zhao, how can drones take real estate to the next level?

Drones provide a unique low-level aerial view to Real Estate. Moreover, drones also have interesting technology to showcase 360 degrees aerial view of a large property. In addition, this can be combined with a virtual tour to allow someone to virtually walk through a property both from the air and ground before even physically setting foot on it. We believe it’s this type of technology improvements that will take Real Estate to the next level.  For instance – Aerial Tour of our Flight Field

#whatonwhatsgood showcases talent and experiences in a unique kind of way.

#cinqque5tion are fun interviews with filmmakers, musicians, producers, actors, writers, composers, broadcasters and many more in order to tell their story.  In addition, it is a chance to get to know them better.

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About the Author
Jovin Tardif
Press/Media What On What’s Good
StorytellerConversation Starter,
and Social Media

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