New drone safety rules an­nounced

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - BUSINESS NEWS - MOR­GAN LOWRIE

MON­TREAL — The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is work­ing with se­cu­rity agen­cies and air­ports to de­velop mea­sures to pre­vent drones from fly­ing into space re­served for air­craft, Trans­port Min­is­ter Marc Gar­neau said Wed­nes­day as he an­nounced new reg­u­la­tions for drone op­er­a­tors.

Gar­neau’s com­ments came af­ter re­cent drone sight­ings at Lon­don’s Heathrow and Gatwick air­ports caused flight de­lays and chaos for trav­ellers.

“We are work­ing with dif­fer­ent groups, in­clud­ing the air­ports but also se­cu­rity agen­cies, to ex­am­ine what kinds of coun­ter­mea­sures would be ap­pli­ca­ble de­pend­ing on the type of drone and cir­cum­stances,” Gar­neau said at a news con­fer­ence in Mon­treal.

“Ob­vi­ously, for se­cu­rity rea­sons, I can’t go into de­tails on that, but this is some­thing we are look­ing at ex­tremely se­ri­ously be­cause it rep­re­sents po­ten­tially a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion.”

The first recorded col­li­sion be­tween a drone and a pas­sen­ger air­craft in Canada oc­curred in Oc­to­ber 2017 as an in­bound Sky­jet flight was struck as it ap­proached Que­bec’s City’s air­port. The pi­lot was able to land the plane safely.

Gar­neau an­nounced strict new reg­u­la­tions that will re­quire any­one fly­ing a drone in Canada to pass an on­line exam and get a pi­lot’s cer­tifi­cate. The new rules, which come into ef­fect June 1, ap­ply to all drone op­er­a­tors, whether they fly for fun, work or re­search.

Op­er­a­tors will be re­quired to reg­is­ter their drones and mark them with the reg­is­tra­tion num­ber. A min­i­mum age limit of 14 for ba­sic op­er­a­tions and 16 for ad­vanced will be in­tro­duced. Pi­lots will have to keep their air­craft below 122 me­tres — 400 feet — above ground level and stay away from air traf­fic.

Un­less they ob­tain a spe­cial flight cer­tifi­cate from Trans­port Canada, op­er­a­tors will have to keep their drones within their sight­line and at least 30 me­tres from other peo­ple at all times and avoid pub­lic events and po­lice se­cu­rity perime­ters.

The new rules, which cover drones weigh­ing be­tween 250 grams and 25 kilo­grams, are aimed at coun­ter­ing a grow­ing trend of drone in­cur­sions into space re­served for air travel.

Fines be­gin at be­tween $1,000 and $3,000 for in­di­vid­u­als but can rise much higher for cor­po­ra­tions or any­one de­lib­er­ately break­ing the rules. Vi­o­la­tors who de­lib­er­ately fly near an air­craft’s flight path could be sub­ject to fines of up to $25,000 and prison.

Gar­neau said that peo­ple who fly un­manned air­craft such as drones must ac­cept the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that come with be­ing a pi­lot.

“You are a pi­lot if you’re fly­ing a drone, and be­cause of the risks and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, it is im­per­a­tive that you know the rules in ef­fect in the sky,” he said.

PAUL CHI­AS­SON/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS Fed­eral Trans­port Min­is­ter Marc Gar­neau an­nounces new rules to fly a drone in Canada dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in Mon­treal on Wed­nes­day.

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