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.

Proposed Canadian UAV Regs Review – Still No LiDAR Allowance

Under existing regulations the use of laser payloads, such as LiDAR requires a special approval from Health Canada as well as a “special” SFOC for such use.

This will not change in the proposed new regulations, laser devices such as LiDAR will still require an SFOC, and are excluded under the new regulation primary allowances.

900.26 No person shall operate an unmanned aircraft if the aircraft is transporting explosive, corrosive, flammable or biohazardous material or a payload consisting of a directed bright light source as defined in section 601.14 or a payload that can be jettisoned, self-propelled, dispersed or dropped unless the operation is conducted under a special flight operations certificate — UAS issued under section 904.03 and the pilot may conduct an operation set out in subsection 902.51(2).

This is in our view short sighted by Transport Canada, given the growing industrial use of LiDAR on UAVs and the fact many are eye safe devices, used without restriction on ground based vehicles already.

Transport Canada UAS Task Force

As part of the recent Transport Canada regulatory engagement sessions on the proposed new UAV regulations was also the introduction of the newly created UAS Task Force.  It was noted during the session that this new group was formed as a result of new budget in 2017.

As per the presentation the Task Force is described as follows:

Introduction to the Task Force

Budget 2017 committed to modernize Canada’s transportation system, with funding for UAS to:

  • “Develop regulations for the safe adoption of connected and autonomous vehicles and unmanned air vehicles… Work with industry, provinces, territories and municipalities to establish pilot projects… [and] Provide the standards and certifications that industry will need to safely use these new technologies”

  • TC will implement Budget 2017 commitments through a dedicated UAS Task Force.

  • Mandated to address safety and regulatory gaps, proactively address UAS as a disruptive technology, and foster economic success for the industry.

  • Will deliver regulations, certifications, and standards to lay the foundation for the future of UAS in Canada, support innovative pilot projects and test sites, and work with industry to integrate UAS into Canada’s air transportation system.

London FIC NOTAM Info

We received the following from a reader in Ontario that was asked to share some info they received from Nav Canada London FIC in regards to NOTAMs, as outlined below:

All drone operators who file NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) with the London FIC are requested to file these NOTAMs in the afternoon or evening (as opposed to in the morning or after midnight) whenever possible. Please keep in mind that NAVCANADA can only issue NOTAMs within 48 hours of when the activity starts. All FICs are open 24 HRS so if a job comes in with little notice, the FIC will still accommodate the NOTAM, but if that is not the case, and the job is within 48 hours, calling in the afternoon is optimal. This is especially important when a drone operator calls to file multiple NOTAMs.
In addition to this, it is also very helpful if the operator can provide the information requested as per the example provided below. The coordinates for your job-site can be determined using Google Maps by finding the location and left-clicking (to drop a pin) on the site. The coordinates will show up in a small dialog box at the bottom of the screen as a hyperlink (in decimal degrees). Clicking on the link will display the coordinates in DDMMSS in the blue area of the location box at the top left side of the page. Use the appropriate units of measurement when describing the drone. Don’t worry about the AD reference, we calculate it here.
If you feel that you will be filing numerous NOTAMs with the FIC, please enquire about setting up a template with us. This allows us to store your drone data and contact information so that when you call for a NOTAM, all we need to obtain is the specifics of the job itself. When we create a template, we usually call it by the operator’s name (eg. UAV-Smith).
Drone procedures are an ongoing work in progress for all the agencies involved (NAVCANADA, Transport Canada, airport operators, etc.) so I can’t speak for how other FICs are developing their procedures, but hopefully theirs will be similar.
150001 NOTAMN CYQF INNISFAIL CYQF UNMANNED AIR VEHICLE ACT RADIUS 0.25 NM CENTRE 515919N 1141010W (APRX 8 NM SSW AD) SFC TO 350 FT AGL. WINGSPAN 40 INS. WEIGHT 5.5 LB. COLOUR BLACK. YYMMDDHHMM TIL YYMMDDHHMM

Proposed Canadian UAV Regs Review – Give Your Feedback

As part of the new proposed Canadian UAV regulations is a comment period for public to make their voice heard on issues, thoughts and concerns with the coming changes. There are only 90 days to let Transport Canada know what you think.  Send your feedback by October 13th to:

Chief,
Regulatory Affairs,
Civil Aviation,
Safety and Security Group,
Department of Transport,
Place de Ville, Tower C,
330 Sparks Street, Ottawa,
Ontario K1A 0N5

Feedback may also be submitted by email to carrac@tc.gc.ca

It should be noted that feedback during the UAS Task Force sessions being held across the country DOES NOT substitute written submissions, so be sure to also submit them via the methods above even if you voiced them in person.