The Transport Safety Board of Canada just released a fact-gathering investigation into an in-flight collision between a drone and a 9 passenger commercial aircraft (Beechcraft King Air 100). Although there was a very large potential for disaster, thankfully there were no injuries, and the greatest damage appears to be the disintegration of the drone.
Note: Since this publication, Interim Order No. 8 has been released. This post has been edited to reflect the changes.
On March 17, 2017, Transport Canada enacted an Interim Order respecting the use of model aircraft in Canadian Domestic Airspace. The order is intended as a temporary measure to protect airspace users, and the general public, until new regulations regarding the use of UAVs can be published. This interim order will affect anyone using a UAV between 250 g and 35 kg for recreational purposes. That is nearly all of the consumer grade UAVs available for mass purchase, such as those built by DJI.
For those that operate UAVs for commercial purposes, Transport Canada still has processes in place to govern their use. Those operators that currently hold an SFOC, or operate successfully under the exemptions to an SFOC, can continue to exercise those privileges.
For a UAV hobbyist in Edmonton, options now are very limited. The easiest option is currently to seek enrollment with the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC). Canfly Drones has built a map of the Edmonton area, showing shaded circles around aerodromes and heliports, and also the restricted airspace in the area of Namao. It should also be noted that the City of Edmonton has bylaws to in place that require a UAV operator to seek permission from the city before use of any parks for the operation of unmanned/model aircraft. Therefore, before any recreational flights occur in the City of Edmonton, you would need a very large backyard to satisfy the condition of flying to no closer than 75 m (or 30 m) from any building, vehicles, animals, crowds. For reference, most properties have backyards of between 10 to 20 meters width.
Transport Canada has released the new exemptions to the requirements of operating a UAV under an SFOC in Canada. These exemptions are an update to those previously in effect to December of 2016, and will remain in effect until no later than December 31, 2019
UAV technology is still short of allowing a full integration into the Canadian airspace system. As Transport Canada has a mandate to protect airspace stakeholders, as well as the public, these exemptions were authorised by the Minister of Transport to allow non-recreational UAV users to operate in areas of low-risk to the general public and airspace users.
An operator with a curren (or recent) SFOC will find the conditions required to exercise the exemptions run parallel to a good deal of conditions required by an SFOC. Although the exemptions are not a licence to operate a UAV in an unrestricted fashion, a UAV operator that flies repeatedly over the same site, which is located well outside of populated areas, may find their operation can easily fit into the requirements of the exemptions.
Transport Canada has released a new new online form for reporting UAV incidents in Canada. The concept of the online form is a central repository for concerns by any member of the public, in regards to drones. We need to emphasize that this does not replace 911/Emergency Services: If a UAV is witnessed endangering people or property, then emergency services need to be notified.
The form may be found here.
We are pleased to hear the Transport Canada is moving forward on educating the public on safe and legal UAV practises. We encourage recreational and commercial users familiarize themselves.