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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.