Ottawa eyes new drone rules

Monday, December 26th, 2016

The Province

Transport Canada launched a record 118 investigations into the illegal use of drones this year across the country, including 18 in B.C.

The federal department also issued a record 16 fines for drone-related violations in Canada to Dec. 1 this year — half of those in B.C. There were just five fines issued in 2015, three of those in this region.

Among the B.C. enforcement actions, Moves Media Ltd., a Vancouver video production company, was fined $5,000 for operating a drone — also known as an unmanned air vehicle, or UAV — contrary to its Special Flight Operations Certificate issued by Transport Canada.

The federal government also issued about 4,300 such certificates for commercial or research purposes this year before Dec. 1, up from the 2,480 in 2015 and 1,672 issued in 2014.

Penalties against individuals for illegal use of drones were closer to $1,000, although violators may get off with a warning.

The numbers reflect how fast the activity is growing and hint at Ottawa’s difficulty in keeping pace.

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase,” said Aaron McCrorie, director-general of civil aviation for Transport Canada. “Most of it is legitimate, but we’re also seeing an increase in the number of incidents that cause safety concerns.”

McCrorie said that the federal government is expecting to introduce new rules in 2017 to guard against crashes and to protect people on the ground.

He says the current regulations “haven’t kept up with technology.

“… We need to modernize the rules, to deal with the growing safety risk around airports and built-up areas where they shouldn’t be.”

One of the new regulations may require persons flying drones under 25 kilograms to pay a fee to complete an online course — similar to anyone wanting to obtain a boating licence.

Other regulations proposed by Ottawa include the requirement to mark and register drones.

© 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.

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