New Regulations For Drone Operators – A Challenge

Bearskin Airlines official also supportive of move by federal government to keep drones out of aircraft airspace.

A local drone enthusiast applauds new restrictions put in place this week by the federal government to regulate their use in Canada.

Alan Auld, owner of Imagine Films, on Friday said the rules help even the playing field and are a huge step to ensuring public safety from users who might be taking unnecessary risks with their drones and putting others in danger.

” Now whenever (amateurs) want to fly in the city of Thunder Bay they need a special flight operations certificate from Transport Canada. Before that it was kind of carte blanche,” Auld said. “They could kind of do what they wanted.

” There were rules out there, but they weren’t enforceable. Now they have to play like us and get a certificate, which takes 20 business days to get.”

The new regulations, introduced on Thursday in Ottawa by Transportation Minister Marc Garneau, severely limit where and when drones can be flown in Canadian airspace.

Amateur operators may not fly drones higher than 90 metres in the air or 75 metres from vessels, vehicles and buildings, animals and people or crowds. They can’t be flown within nine kilometers of an airport or landing pad, including seaports and the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s helipad. The same restriction applies to forest fires.

Drones can not interfere with first responders, and operators must keep them both within line of sight and within 500 metres.

Operators must clearly print their names, address and telephone numbers on their drone.

Failure to abide by the new rules could result in a fine of up to $3,000.

” It’s an aircraft and it’s judged as one. It has the ability to take down an aircraft. Our Thunder Bay airport is right in the city. Those planes are flying down Arthur Street from end to end and they’re coming in at about 500 feet before they land,” Auld said.

” These drones can go up to several thousand feet very quickly. To get into the line of a plane is quite dangerous.”

Near misses with airplanes have more than tripled between 2014 and 2016.

Ron Hell, spokesman for Bearskin Airlines, said the company welcomes the new regulations wholeheartedly.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority, always,” Hell said, noting Bearskin Airlines has not had any close calls with drones as of yet.

“I don’t think we’ve had anything we ‘d classify as serious, but clearly some airlines have. I think Porter’s had a few close calls recently. There are absolutely higher incidences of drones flying in and around airports’ airspace. It is a potential hazard and it needs to be addressed.

The federal government is expected to introduce even more stringent restrictions in June.

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