Municipal bylaws impacting drone operations – are they legal?

Overview

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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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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