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Canada has announced new regulations over the use of drones in its airspace, strictly banning them from flying near airports. Operators must also register their devices and obtain a license to prevent high and drunk drone-flying.

Following a spike in drone-related incidents over the years, which have compromised aviation safety, Canada this week introduced new guidelines on flying drones weighing between 250 grams and 25 kilograms. The rules, set to go into effect in June, will require drone owners to register and mark their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and obtain a pilot certificate whether they plan to use them for “fun, work or research.” Operating the remote-controlled flying device will also require their owners to be alcohol- and drug-free.

Thanks, ETS, for your warm welcome today as we took another step in the right direction to ensure safety and promote innovation within the Canadian drone industry. pic.twitter.com/YX2ZdEj9Q2

— Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) January 9, 2019

“You are a pilot if youre flying a drone and, because of the risks and responsibilities, it is imperative that you know the rules in effect in the sky,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Wednesday as he announced the new regulations.

Once summer arrives, “drone flight schools” across Canada will be issuing two types of flying certificates. A basic license will be available to those over the age of 14, while those over 16 will be eligible to an advanced certificate that allows for flying the devices in the vicinity of bystanders.

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All certified operators will still be mandated to keep their aircraft below 122 meters and to stay clear of other air traffic. Those wishing to fly UAVs weighing over 25 kilograms will need special permission from Transport Canada. Any violations will be subject to a hefty fine or even prison time.

“Endangering the safety of an aircraft is a serious offense,” Transport Canada said. “Anyone who violates the regulations could be subject to additional fines of up to $25,000 and/or prison. This applies to drones of any size used for any purpose.”

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Drone-related incidents near the airports have caused major safety concerns for the Canadian authorities, after the number of reported incidents more than tripled in just three years. In 2014, Transport Canada reported 38 cases of drones flying too close to airplanes and airports. That number ballooned to 135 in 2017.

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The change in Canadian regulations was introduced to avoid the kind of problems that drones have caused at London airports over the holiday season. Hundreds of flights were canceled because of a drone threat at Gatwick Airport before Christmas, while earlier this week a drone sighting disrupted flights at Heathrow.

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