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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EVENT: Drones on the agenda at the IATA Legal Symposium 2019 (Rome, Italy)

As the number of drone sightings near airports continue to mount (London Gatwick, Newark, Dubai, and now, Dublin), airlines and airports are increasingly concerned with ensuring operational safety and efficiency. Regulators share the desire for operational safety, but are also charged with creating rules that allow drones to fly within our current airspace management system and promoting an environment to encourage technological advances.

These issues are all on the docket at this year’s International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Legal Symposium in Rome, Italy, “Into the Future”, a legal conference that tackles issues facing the airlines, airports and the aviation industry as a whole.

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BREAKING NEWS: Official Drone Regulations Released by Transport Canada (Jan 9, 2019)

After much anticipation, Transport Canada announced the official drone regulations at a press conference this morning in Montreal, Quebec. Embracing the nomenclature change to refer to drones as “remotely piloted aircraft systems”, the official regulations reflect many changes to the laws in Canada for drones weighing between 250g and 25kg. Most of these new laws, including those described in our earlier blog post, will come into force and effect starting June 1, 2019.

The full text of the official regulations has been published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, and can be found here. A fulsome summary and highlights of the official regulations will follow shortly.

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Transport Canada Provides Insight into Changes to Drone Regulations and Confirms 2018 Release

 

Transport Canada recently provided industry leaders with a preview of the final version of the official regulations for small drones (250g-25kg) operated within visual line-of-sight. Since the proposed text of the regulations was released in July 2017, Canadians have been eagerly awaiting the final version. At the 2018 Unmanned Systems Canada Conference, Transport Canada representatives revealed the key changes that will be reflected in the official text of the regulations (upon their release at some point in 2018).

Over the last year, Transport Canada consulted with stakeholders in the RPAS industry and the Canadian public regarding the proposed text of the regulations.

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Judge Convicts and Fines Canadian for Flying Drone Near Airport

On October 26, 2018, a Canadian man was convicted and fined for operating his drone within 30 feet of the approach path at the airport in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories (Airport Station Code: YZF).

Toufic Chamas was convicted under s. 77(e) of the Criminal Code of Canada for endangering aviation safety near an airport through the operation of a drone and was fined $3,000. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and as reported by the CBC, this is the first drone-related conviction of its kind under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Mr. Chamas’ sentence for the drone offence was jointly recommended by the prosecution and the accused to the presiding judge (known as a “joint submission”).

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EVENT: Unmanned Canada Conference and Trade Show, October 30 – November 1, 2018 (Vancouver, BC)

 

Unmanned Canada presents their 16th annual conference and trade show, “Unmanned Canada:  Innovating Canada by Air, Land & Sea” on October 30 – November 1, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The three day event will bring together industry experts and participants to explore themes and issues critical to the development of the unmanned industry in Canada.

As described by Unmanned Canada:

“This will be Canada’s premiere Unmanned Systems event focusing on sharing new technologies, policies and best practices shaping the aerial, marine and land-based unmanned vehicle sector.

  • Get the latest updates directly from Transport Canada’s UAS Task Force regarding changes in commercial regulations, pilot qualifications, and compliant equipment requirements.
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“Near Miss” Between a Commercial Airliner and a Drone in Vancouver

 

Commercial airline pilots do not anticipate drone traffic in flight or on approach into Canada’s airports. However, drone sightings by commercial aircraft are more and more frequent. On September 21, 2018, a drone was spotted by an Air Canada Jazz crew at approximately 7,000 AGL (above ground level) when the aircraft was on approach into Vancouver International Airport (YVR). Though the drone did not make contact with the aircraft and the aircraft was not forced to alter or abort its approach, the presence of drones at altitudes well exceeding the permitted flight ceilings and near airports is cause for grave concern.

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