General

TC RPAS Task Force Regulatory Update on Proposed Canadian Regulations – Oct 30 2018

During the USC Conference recently held in Vancouver (Oct 30 2018), Transport Canada provided an update on the proposed changes to Canadian legislation governing UAV/drones, which are now officially called Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

No solid date was given on when we will see the final version but they are targeting before end of 2018.

Roll-out will be done over a 6 month period once the regulations are published in Canada Gazette Part II.

The following is a summary of proposed regulations:

  • Single weight class from 250g-25kg for VLOS operations
  • Single set of regulations for recreational and commercial use
  • Operations fall into two types of operations: Basic, Advanced

Basic:

  • Class G Airspace Only
  • 1nm from heliports, 3nm from airports
  • No aircraft design standard requirement
  • Aircraft must be registered and marked with #
  • Basic online test for license
  • 14 or older unless supervised
  • No speed restrictions
  • Operations within built-up areas permitted
  • No operations over people, 30M distance
  • Max altitude 400′
  • Night operations permitted
  • Not specific distance from pilot but must be VLOS
  • No liability insurance required

Advanced:

  • Class G, C-F Airspace
  • Operations near aerodromes with ATC approval
  • Manufacturers declare RPAS safety assurance
  • Aircraft must be registered and marked with #
  • Comprehensive online test and in person flight review for license
  • 16 or older unless supervised
  • No speed restrictions
  • Operations within built-up areas permitted
  • Operations over people if assurance allows, 0-30M from people.
  • Max altitude 400′
  • Night operations permitted
  • Not specific distance from pilot but must be VLOS
  • No liability insurance required

Details on manufacture assurance process are TBA.

Slides courtesy of Calvin Reich via UAV Task Force at the Unmanned Systems Conference

Air Transportation Safety Investigation Report A17Q016

The TSB – Transportation Safety Board of Canada has released their report on the suspected drone/aircraft collision over Quebec in October 2017:

http://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/aviation/2017/a17q0162/a17q0162.asp

Noted items:

The damage was limited to a dent at the point of impact on the left wing de-icing boot, as well as scratches on the upper surface of the left wing. The damage was minor and had no effect on the airworthiness of the aircraft. The aircraft was returned to service the same day.

The investigation was unable to identify the operator of the drone involved in the collision with the Sky Jet M.G. Inc. aircraft. No debris from the drone could be found, and it could not be determined with certainty whether it was used for recreational or non-recreational purposes.

The CYQB control tower had not been informed of any UAV activity in the Class C control zone under its jurisdiction, no SFOC had been issued, and no Notices to Airmen had reported any such activity on 12 October 2017. The presence of a drone within controlled airspace had not been detected by the radar in the CYQB control tower. Because neither TC nor NAV CANADA was aware of this drone operation in the control zone, the investigation concluded that the regulations governing the operation of drones were not followed.

It is still unclear as to if this was a drone or misreporting of another object, given that no evidence was found to positively identify the drone or operator.  While we do not deny it may have been a drone, the evidence seems thin.

Shams, Scams, Flimflams, and Drones

When it comes to any industry there are always a few that will try and exploit the market by all means possible to make a quick $$$.  In new industries like with UAVs/drones, this can be even more pronounced as scammers look to profit from the general lack of knowledge.

We recently had an experience with this where a new “drone” company directly stole content from this very blog, word for word, to promote a competitive service of their own.  When confronted they accused us of copying them!  The fact that our content had been written over a year prior to theirs seemed lost in the logic of a flimflam artist. (If we owned a time machine I think we could make better use of it than stealing someone’s written word on drones, but I digress)  Further review of their website found images taken from other UAV firms as well, so at least we are not alone, and perhaps should be flattered to have been included in their “market research”??

This is not the first case of this nor will it be the last.  Many drone businesses have seen their work being copied and used without credit over the last number of years, some even being listed for resale.  Again, ethics and morals are lost on some, unfortunately.  Even those listing what appear to be high standing credentials and years of related experience can sometimes be less than honest, scammers exist at all levels, just remember Bernie Madoff.

We’ve also experienced losing jobs and clients to other “professional” SFOC holding UAV operators that were willing to work outside the regulations, offering clients services that legally cannot be done, which makes it hard to compete on a level playing field.  We and most others, however, choose to work with the system, although not perfect, is what we have, and putting the client and public at risk for a few dollars is not worth it long term for anyone.

The simple reality is there is a small percentage in any sector that have a moral compass that needs calibration.  Eventually, they either fall in line or move on to exploit another industry once exposed, but for a short time can do great damage to an industry and leave a bad taste in the mouths of customers.

End of the day the customer needs to do their homework when selecting a provider in any industry, and possibly more so in the UAV arena, where many companies are new and it is hard to spot the professionals from the quick buck crowd.  Perform due diligence, ask questions, check with others in the market, reach out to past customers if possible, see what they have posted and shared on social media to help develop a profile of what they are and how they work.  While the vast majority of providers are honest hard working people, there are the few lying in wait to pounce on unsuspecting prey.

The UAV industry is an exciting and fast-moving one, much like the gold rush of the old west, and with it come the snake oil salesmen and carpet baggers looking for their next victim.  Try not to be that person, on either side of the transaction.

Lies, damned lies, and drone statistics

As Mark Twain once said:

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

With recent comments from the Minister of Transport in Canada regarding the number of drone incidents this seems all too true.  In the Minister’s recent statement on the Quebec City drone incident it was stated:

For 2017, to date 1,596 drone incidents have been reported to the department. Of these, 131 are deemed to have been of aviation safety concern.

For those involved in the UAV industry these numbers came as a bit of a surprise, as the UAS Task Force had been stating 74 incidents to date as of Q2 2017:

2017-10-16_6-01-38

A search on UAV related reports in CADORS showed only around 227 filings to date for 2017.

For further clarification on these numbers we reached out to Transport Canada via Twitter.  The following was their response:

The # of incidents comes from TC’s reporting tool and includes complaints not related to aviation safety. http://ow.ly/OaQz30fWDB2

So basically the 1,596 is based on all submissions via the online public reporting tool.  These are unverified and appear unreviewed as best we can tell and could cover any and all types of complaints from noise, privacy, safety, to merely someone not liking drones and wanting them stopped filing multiple submissions over and over potentially.

While we have no direct issue with the reporting tool, the fact that the number of submissions, which includes non aviation related issues, was quoted in the context of a possible incident with an aircraft is a concern, as it provides a misleading representation of reality on issues that have no bearing on drones and manned aircraft.

It is unfortunate that such data is being misrepresented with no clear definition of the source or the reliability of the information.

 

The Minister Who Cried Drone…

The events of Oct 12th over Quebec City where the reports of a drone collision with a manned aircraft are now worldwide news.  As we wrote on a few days ago there are many items that need to be questioned and considered at this stage given the few details we know.

As of today the TSB (Transportation Safety Board) has opened an investigation into the incident and in time we will hopefully know what actually transpired, and if a drone was or was not involved.

However as the matter stands now the public, and as well the Minister of Transport, has already been judge and jury and “confirmed” the incident as a drone strike, which is obviously pending an investigation given TSB just started the process.

The problem is the damage has already been done to the drone industry as a whole as a result of the unverified comments made by the Minister and in turn regurgitated by the media.  If and when an actual investigation finds the true events of what happened most will have moved on and the final report will unlikely carry as much weight in the daily news cycle as the initial dramatic report.

As a members of the UAV industry all we ask for is a fair and factual handling of the matter.  If indeed it was a verified drone collision then it needs to be addressed as such and publicized.  If it was something else, then the same needs to be disseminated.

Crying wolf, or worse yet in today’s lexicon “drone”, merely acts to raise fear in the public in the new evolving technology.  For a federal department that claims to be developing new regulations that account for the growth and “innovation” of drone technology, the comments this week do nothing to further that, and in fact give the appearance of an anti-drone stance within the department.

Expecting fair and balanced reporting  from the media on click bait stories that include “drones” is a pipe dream, but expecting the same from the Minister in charge of regulating and growing their usage is clearly another matter and one that should be unbiased and balanced.  I fear we are not getting such an approach.

In the end all we can do is wait for the facts and act based on what was determined to improve safety if needed and to erase the black eye otherwise.  Acting without these facts is unwise and dangerous and impacts many business trying to develop a foothold in this this new global industry.  Think before you speak.

 

 

Reported Canadian Drone Aircraft Collision – Things to Consider

The past few days the media has been filled with stories of the Oct 12th reported collision between a drone and a passenger aircraft, as outlined in this CBC story, one of many now being published world wide.

As Per the CADORS report:

A Beech A100 operated by Sky Jet (C-GJBV / SJ512), flying from Schefferville (CYKL), QC, to Quebec City / Jean Lesage (CYQB) QC, struck a drone on the nose of the aircraft at 7 miles in the final runway 24 to 2400 ft. The extent of the damage is unknown. The aircraft landed safely.

With the story comes a number of points that need be considered, as many run off in the direction of the worst case scenario.

  1. Was the report confirmed as a drone?  To date we have seen no physical evidence and as has been seen in the past, such as the case in the UK where the drone turned out to be a plastic bag, things are not always as they first appear.
  2. If it was in fact a drone, this would only be the second confirmed case worldwide, the first being the recent accident in the US with the Blackhawk helicopter.  While some may say any incident is one too many, given the number of drones being used the actual accidents have basically been nil.
  3. As with the Blackhawk incident, no injuries were reported and both aircraft were able to land with only minor damage.  Again if this was a drone the damaged caused seems to be minimal and not the horror story that some have predicted.
  4. The Minister reports that there have been 1,596 drone incidents to date for 2017 in Canada.  However CADORS only shows 227 cases and recent reports from the new UAS Task Force that is part of Transport Canada reported only 74 as of Q2 2017.  We are curious as to the variations in numbers being mentioned.
  5. If this was an actual drone incident it is in violations of the current regulations.  Either a recreational flight outside the altitude limits and distances to an aerodrome or a commercial flight that did not do proper coordination with ATC.  In either case adding more laws will not solve the problem, it is already an illegal operations.  What is needed is more education and more enforcement of the regulations we have now, not more laws that some will always choose to ignore.

At the end of the day incidents like this help no one, it gives drones a bad name in the eyes of the public and it causes knee jerk reactions from regulators.  However we need to consider the facts and not make judgement until all the details are known, or we may have another case of a plastic bag, but the public never see that, they merely remember the Minister crying foul against drones.

We all have a responsibility to fly safe, educate others, and to provide clear, correct information on issues like this and also the good drones do.  For every reported incident there are thousands of flights daily that are uneventful, many serving to grow the economy or the pure enjoyment of users.