Counter-drone technology: is it legal in Canada?

Many airports around the world (for example, San Francisco International Airport) are considering the installation of a drone detection system. These systems alert air traffic services and authorities of nearby drones in flight that may endanger aircraft on approach and/or departure. While technology that assists in the detection of drones is likely legal in Canada, the use of counter-drone technology to disrupt or interfere with drones in flight is generally illegal. This post will explore the most common counter-drone technologies and the statutory basis for their illegality in Canada.

Three of the most common (and all illegal) counter-drone measures include: 1) jamming devices, 2) software exploitation devices, and 3) physical disruption.

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EVENT: 12th Annual McGill Conference on International Aviation Liability, Insurance & Finance – Oct 18 & 19, 2019 (Montreal, PQ)

McGill’s Institute of Air and Space Law hosts an annual conference that brings together leading aviation liability and insurance experts to discuss issues and trends in the industry. Kathryn McCulloch of Dentons will be speaking on a panel addressing liability issues arising from drone disruption of air travel.

Check out the full programme here.

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Privacy laws and drones: Legal considerations and best practices for commercial drone operators


The data collection capabilities of drones are unprecedented. Cameras and imaging payloads can capture and transmit data and high-resolution images, enabling drone operators to identify and track people and vehicles. Further, drones with radiocommunication payloads can potentially intercept communications or collect data from Wi-Fi access points.

These capabilities raise new and difficult privacy challenges, including:

  • Identifying when information captured by drones, alone or in combination with other information, is “personal information” (as defined by the relevant legislation);
  • Obtaining meaningful consent from data subjects where necessary;
  • Informing individuals about the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information, and ensuring that drone operators remain accountable for their practices; and
  • Limiting collection and reducing the potential for indiscriminate over-collection of personal information.
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Remote identification and tracking of drones – what do Canada’s regulations require?

Despite the new Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations and drone safety campaigns by Transport Canada, unauthorized flights over crowds and interference with manned aircraft operations by rogue drone operators persist in Canada. According to Transport Canada, the number of reported incidents in Canada more than tripled from 2014 to 2017. There have been at least two incidents where it is believed that a drone struck an aircraft and the number of reported drone incidents has risen since January 1, 2019. This problem is not uniquely Canadian – enforcing regulations continues to be a challenge for transportation departments and law enforcement around the world (for more information on reported incidents worldwide, click here).

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EVENT: Unmanned Systems Canada 2019 Conference – Oct 30 to Nov 1, 2019 (Ottawa, ON)

Canada’s largest unmanned systems industry association, Unmanned Systems Canada, will host its 17th annual conference “Unmanned Canada 2019 – Innovating Canada by Air, Land and Sea” in Ottawa, Ontario from October 30-November 1, 2019.

Transport Canada will be delivering updates, along with presentations by experts from all corners of the industry. Kathryn McCulloch will be providing a practical overview of the laws and regulations that apply to RPAS operators and industry participants and will be discussing best practices to mitigate risks and minimize liability in the “Operators Forum” on October 30, 2019.

More details about UC19 can be found here.

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Municipal bylaws impacting drone operations – are they legal?


Canadians are taking drones to the skies in increasing numbers. In 2017, there were an estimated 337,468 drones in Canada, 74 percent of which were recreational, and 26 percent of which were used for non-recreational purposes1. Globally, the market for commercial drones is staggering – it is expected to reach US$17 billion by 2024.2

The influx of drones in Canada’s skies are creating a new and growing concern for lawmakers. As cities and towns are grappling with the safety (and other) concerns presented by drone use in their borders, more and more municipalities are enacting bylaws that affect drone operations.

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DJI’s “calls to action” for the drone industry and how Canada’s regulations stack up

DJI’s recently-released white paper, “Elevating Safety: Protecting the Skies in the Drone Era,” describes 10 “calls to action” that drone manufacturers, the aviation industry, and governments must take to protect the growth of the drone industry and chart a path to ensure drones remain a safe addition to the airspace. DJI is a Chinese technology company headquartered in Shenzen, whose products account for 70 percent of the international consumer drone market.1

From a regulatory perspective, Canada has already taken steps to incorporate into its regulatory framework several of the preconditions to safety and development of the industry, as DJI has set out in its white paper.

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Canada’s regulatory framework for drones featured at the IATA Legal Symposium in Rome, Italy

Kathryn McCulloch, partner at Dentons Canada, joined a panel of experts from around the globe and spoke about regulatory hurdles faced in Canada, operational safety and the impact that drones and new model air transport services have on airspace management at the IATA Legal Symposium in Rome.

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R v. Shah – Lessons learned from Canada’s first drone case

Few judicial decisions exist in Canada relating to the operation of drones or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS). In R v. Shah, the Provincial Court of Alberta released its decision on the first reported case on drones in Canada. Although the key charging section in this case has since been revised, and this case was decided before the most current regulations came into force, the decision in Shah offers valuable insight into the unique risk factors associated with drone operations. The discussion in Shah has significant implications relating to airspace safety as drones continue to integrate into Canada’s airspace.

To see our full case comment, click here.

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Canada’s new drone regulations: Greater regulatory certainty achieved with permissive approach to incorporating drones into airspace

The final version of Canada’s new regulations for visual-line-of-sight operations for drones weighing between 250g and 25kg, were introduced by Transport Canada in January 2019. These regulations constitute significant revisions to the proposed version of the regulations that were prepared and released in July 2017 (a summary of the proposed version can be found here). The new Part IX to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) mostly come into force on June 1, 2019.

It was high time to update Canada’s drone regulations. Transport Canada acknowledged this need in the Regulatory Impact Statement accompanying the regulations, noting that “…the existing Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) do not provide a regulatory framework that promotes the economic potential of RPAS nor does it contain modern, risk- and performance-based regulations that can uphold aviation safety.”

Key features of the new regulations

Transport Canada’s stated objectives for the new regulations are to i) create regulatory predictability for business, and ii) reduce the risk to aviation safety caused by drones.

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