Canada is in a position to act as a first mover in the emerging space of commercial drone delivery services. Given Canada’s vast landscape and extreme weather conditions, it is often an onerous and costly process for residents in remote locations to obtain everyday essential goods. The Moose Cree First Nation Community is situated on Moose Factory Island, an area without direct access to the shoreline. In the summertime, basic goods are transported across the Moose River by barge. Recent developments in Canada present opportunities to implement the use of drones beyond military and recreational purposes, bringing drone technology to the forefront in the transportation of goods.
Drones are a tool for your business, but the cost of purchasing the most technologically-advanced drone and employing a trained (and soon required, licenced) drone pilot, may militate against the purchase. Hiring a drone services operator to perform the aerial shoot, obtain data collection, or survey your manufacturing plant or facility that your company requires, is likely the most cost-effective and convenient move. For more on this point, see our earlier Insight about questions to consider before purchasing a drone or hiring a drone services operator to perform the work for you.
With capable drones available for purchase by the public at relatively low costs, many drone services operators have set up a shingle and are open for business.
Considerations for establishing an “in-house” drone flight department or hiring an external drone services operator
Has your company purchased a drone with the intent of using it at company events or in promotional materials? The price tag of the drone and its anticipated ease of use make the purchase a tempting one. However, flying a drone safely and in accordance with Transport Canada’s oft-changing regulations makes the use of a drone—particularly for commercial purposes—a minefield.Drones are developing at a rapid rate through advances in payload technology, sensor avoidance technology, engineering and electronics. A drone (or fleet) purchased will likely be outdated within months or require modifications in order to continue to operate at an optimal level.
On October 12, 2017, a Skyjet flight, on its final approach into Québec City, was struck by a drone. This aviation incident marked the first commercial aircraft strike by a drone in Canada. No one onboard suffered any injuries, and damage to the aircraft was, fortunately, minor.
Transport Canada tightened the reigns on drone operators (and, in particular, recreational users with the Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft, which was unveiled in March 2017, and amended in June 2017). Among other things, recreational users must stay at least 5.5km from airports (this drone was less than approximately 3km from the airport), and must remain at altitudes under 90m (this drone was flying at about 450m, or 1,500ft, well above the permitted altitude).
Drone insurance: does your company really need it? Yes, and here are some of the reasons why and tips to keep in mind.
Insurance is required by Transport Canada
Transport Canada requires commercial operators to hold liability insurance of at least CA$100,000 if you are flying a drone weighing more than 1kg (note: this requirement will be expanded to any drones weighing more than 250g in mid-2018 when new drone regulations come into force).
Flying a drone for commercial purposes in Canada also requires a “special flight operations certificate” (SFOC), unless your operation fits into one of the exemptions prescribed by Transport Canada.
The use of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs or drones) for both commercial and recreational purposes has grown exponentially in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down. Drones can be used for aerial photography, surveying and inspection for various industries, such as entertainment, marketing, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, farming, mining, energy, forestry, photography, defence and security, construction and real estate.
Many drones are more accessible than ever; they are relatively inexpensive, require little or no assembly, and are relatively easy to fly. This makes drones an attractive option for many businesses and industries. However, the dramatic increase in users who lack familiarity with the rules and regulations surrounding the safe operation of and permitted use of drones has led to numerous drone-related incidents.
Drones, especially recreational drones, are fast becoming ubiquitous. Their increase in popularity shows no signs of slowing down, and nor do the number of drone-related incidents. Canadian authorities saw a 100 percent increase in the number of drone-related incidents in 2016 from 2015, including reported “near misses” with commercial aircraft, collisions with vehicles, as well as an attempt to drop contraband into a prison yard.
On March 16, 2017, Canada’s Minister of Transportation, Marc Garneau, unveiled new prohibitions and penalties for recreational drone operators in an Interim Order Respecting the Use of Model Aircraft, effective immediately. While recreational users were previously required to abide by certain guidelines and fly their drones in compliance with aviation safety, various requirements now must be observed to avoid a fine of up to $3,000.