No Drone Zone – Transport Canada’s Negative View on UAVs

Today Transport Canada and Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, kicked off a new campaign to address the growing concern over drones and aviation safety. While pushing drone safety forward is a positive, this particular event framed the entire UAV industry in a negative light and was little more than fear mongering on the potential for a major accident despite there not being any cases to date.

Mark Laroche, President and CEO, Ottawa International Airport Authority, went so far as to reference the recent incident in the UK of an apparent drone strike, that was unconfirmed and reported in many cases as being a plastic bag.

Daniel-Robert Gooch President, Canadian Airports Council used the term “growing threat” in relation to UAVs:

“We thank the government for recognizing the rapidly growing threat that UAVs pose to commercial aircraft near airports or in restricted airspace. Today’s announcement represents a positive step towards keeping Canada’s airspace safe and moving towards regulations to address this issue.”

While COPA had a voice for private pilots, in addition to Ottawa Police, and the Canadian Airports Council, the UAV industry and recreational users were not part of the press conference nor offered a time to give their take from safe and responsible drone users.

The main focus of the announcement was the introduction of “No Drone Zone” signage that will be put up at airports and available for event organizers and other areas that drones are not wanted.  Already the media is running with statements as fact such as “Currently, drones are not allowed to fly within nine kilometres of airports” when no regulation exists for such restrictions.  As we wrote about before, there is one law CAR 602.45 that regulates recreational model aircraft to not interfere with manned aviation, and commercial operators are allowed to fly in a variety of airspace with the proper SFOC and coordination.

We as an industry need a voice or we may well be regulated out of existence.  Misleading and fear mongering information such as that presented today makes our work harder when public and media question when and where we fly based on these new statements and signs.

While Canada promotes itself as a progressive leading UAV technology country it is clear that is not the case on all levels, and like many industries may end up with only the big players left in the game when the regulatory dust settles.  Today’s announcement only adds to that fear.

9 comments

  1. Wow. What a coincidence that this was preceded by an unprecedented scrambling of two f18 fighter jets to deal with a potential terrorist drone threat. Again, government spin doctoring to enable the big corporate players to dominate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We’ll need to wait (and wait, and wait) for the actual regs before concluding that they’re ‘out to get us’.

    I don’t buy it, as of now.

    In fact, after all the recent hullabaloo, including scrambled CF-18s, I for one was slightly touched that all that happened on Monday was the unveiling of a new sign.

    It could have been a lot worse.

    If the biggest problem right now is lack of awareness (I’d say so, followed by ‘yahoo-ism’), they need to go over-the-top with these things (press conference, dramatic language, Minister of Transport to unveil a sign, etc) to get the word out to all the (many) knuckleheads.

    It would never have shown up on the CBC, Toronto Star home page, etc, with any less.

    Focusing on what actually happened, ignoring all the theatre – basically, nothing we didn’t know a week ago.

    I wish they’d get on with it, though, one way or the other.

    George

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      1. Not to be argumentative — I’m trying to understand this. Where in the regs does it say that? It would seem both counter-intuitive and counter-productive to not require that…

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      2. This is a direct response someone received recently on this from TC –
        “After discussing with our drone experts, we would like to clarify our answer in response to your enquiry about how to get permission to fly a recreational drone near airports. Permission is not required for recreational flights. However, recreational drone operators must ensure that they are not a hazard to aviation. Recreational drone operators are encouraged to avoid all aerodromes (airport, heliports, etc.). Please refer to Transport Canada’s Do’s and Don’ts for flying your drone safely and legally (http://www.tc.gc.ca/4jlbt ) or MAACs (http://www.maac.ca/en/ ) safety guidelines (including aerodrome coordination) to avoid becoming a hazard to aviation. Thank you! Transport Canada Communications”

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  3. That didn’t fully answer the question – I found CAR 102.01(c) which did.

    Now, with that said, it stands to reason that flying in controlled airspace without proper tower communication would fall under the category of “likely to be hazardous to aviation safety” in 602.45, would it not?

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    1. You might think that but numerous cases where TC have done nothing has proven otherwise. Unless there is direct proof of danger to aircraft it is unlikely any charges would be made. Being within 9km of aerodrome is not enough on it’s own. Also needs to be witnessed by law enforcement to have any chance to sticking.

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