Minister Garneau announced today an Interim Order which provides safety rules for recreational drone use. As the national organization representing over 500 members from the professional Unmanned Aerial Systems community, we applaud the Minister’s initiative to take steps to implement clear and enforceable regulations to deter the hazardous operation of recreational drones. Dangerous operations are a threat to aviation safety and to the investment and livelihood of legitimate commercial operators who are now significant users of Canadian airspace.
Nonetheless, we believe that the measures announced today need further refinement. With over ten years of collaboration with Transport Canada on the development of regulations for the professional use of Unmanned Aerial Systems, we look forward to continuing that effort over the weeks ahead to develop a more thorough risk based approach with improved enforcement provisions. For example, we can improve on addressing the different risks between operating near a hospital heliport, and a major airfield to allow broader usage in areas such as Southern Ontario or the lower BC mainland.
As of today, recreational drone usage is effectively prohibited in these areas which may be considered an overly restrictive approach to addressing legitimate safety concerns. In order to implement these safety regulations, both recreational users and enforcement agencies need easy access to information which allows them to determine whether or not they are flying within a prohibited area.
We also need to work with enforcement agencies to ensure that legitimate commercial operations are not inhibited from conducting their work. In fact, these operators across Canada are most likely to be of most help to local enforcement agencies for advice and expertise. Transport Canada deserves credit for having taken this initial step to curb recreational drone use which constitutes a hazard to aviation. With further analysis, we believe that the measures can be improved to better balance aviation safety concerns while permitting Canadians to enjoy the outdoor recreational opportunities afforded by this uniquely captivating technology.