Drone crash prompts Vancouver to review film industry use

Drone crash prompts Vancouver to review film industry use


A drone crash in downtown Vancouver last month has triggered a review by the city on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the film industry.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was being used to shoot a commercial near the intersection of Hastings and Hornby streets when it hit a building and crashed to the ground.

No one was injured and Transport Canada says no one will be charged.

The City of Vancouver confirmed that immediately after the incident, staff imposed a moratorium on UAV filming while Transport Canada conducted a review. That moratorium has been lifted and City of Vancouver staff plan to meet next week to review the city’s policies to see if they need to be updated.

City engineer Peter Judd says the main objective is to ensure no one gets injured by a drone.

“We want to make sure it’s safe for the public. Obviously we want to facilitate filming as well. It’s an important industry in this city.”

Judd says one advantage of drones is that they are less intrusive than helicopters for residents.

“Drones are an extension of work that’s been going on for a long time in the film industry. Typically shots are achieved with helicopters which frankly are noisy and disruptive to residents. Drones provide an alternative that is a lot less intrusive.”

Andy Horka, the owner of Big Sky Cam, which does mostly real estate shots, says everyone in the industry is aware of the crash, but argues drones are much safer than normal helicopters.

“Comparatively if you’re using a full copter for aerial photography, your risk goes up exponentially — because if it comes down, it’s a colossal disaster,” says Horka.

The use of drones is controlled by Transport Canada, which issues Special Flight Operating Certificates for approved operations.

The number of drone permits issued in B.C. annually has risen from just six in 2007 to 178 last year.

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