Drones the kind of tech toys that appeal to you? Before taking to the skies, you’d better check exactly where you can fly, after new rules for recreational drone use were issued last week.
Transport Canada’s new rules require people flying drones to put their contact information on their drones.
They also are not permitted to fly higher than 90 metres, within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles or people, within nine kilometres of any airport, heliport, aerodrome or water aerodrome where aircraft take off and land, or at night.
Operators of drones for commercial, academic or research purposes are not affected by this measure.
Any recreational drone operator who fails to comply with the new flying rules could be subject to fines of up to $3,000.
Chris Wood, general manager at the Region of Waterloo International Airport in Breslau, says they haven’t run into many issues with drones being flown too close to the airport, but the new safety measures are a welcome addition all the same.
“I think the rules have always kind of been in place. It’s just they have a bit more teeth because there’s some fines and things associated, so I think people might pay attention a little bit more, not that we have a big issue with it now. But, yes, we are very supportive of anything that enhances safety in and around the airport,” Wood said.
In the cases when drones have been flying too close to the airport, they’ve notified the police since the airport has no enforcement powers.
“I think that education is really the key here. People need to know that what they’re possible doing could be dangerous. We encourage anything that will enhance the education.”
He says they’ve had a couple sightings of drones by aircraft in the general vicinity of the airport. Over the Christmas holidays a drone that had gone astray ended up on the airport property. It had been blown in from the Doon area of Kitchener.
They turned it over to the police and they were able to track it because it had a serial number on it.
“I don’t think people willfully go out and try to fly drones, I should say the majority of people. There may be some knuckleheads out there, but I think they just need to use some common sense and understand. I think there’s room for both. They can still enjoy flying the drones up to a max height of 90 metres and aircraft can operate safely.”
The airport has had more issues with lasers being pointed at aircraft, than they have with drones. But he says, knock on wood, that hasn’t been the case as of late.
“Lasers have kind of been on the backburner, which is a good thing. I think again the industry benefited a lot from a massive education blitz. People sometimes don’t think what they’re doing could be dangerous, so I think that message really resonated with people. I haven’t heard of a lot of laser strikes recently. It sort of spiked there 18 months ago, but now drones are kind of taking over.”