Transport minister lays out new rules for drone users amid safety concerns

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Transport minister lays out new rules for drone users amid safety concerns

Before these new rules, Canada had a set of guidelines for flying recreational drones safely, but there were no penalties for not following them, Canada's Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said in a press conference today.

He said those who fly drones should follow rules just as pilots do.

The rules don't apply to commercial, academic or research drone use.

Canada's new rules are more restrictive than USA recreational drone regulations, which allow for flying up to 400 feet, don't have a set distance restriction for flying near buildings and allow for recreational flying at night.

Recreational operators must now mark their drones with their contact information.

Drone operators now can not fly at night, higher than 90 metres, within 9 kilometres of a forest fire, within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles or people and or within nine kilometres of the centre or any airport, helicopter, aerodrome or water aerodrome where aircrafts take off and land.

According to Transport Canada, there were 148 reported incidents involving recreational drones in 2016, which is up from 85 incidents in 2015 and 41 incidents in 2014.

"This represents an increase of more than 200 per cent in 2 years", Garneau said. "I have read nearly on a daily basis reports from pilots coming into airports on the flight path and reporting seeing a drone off the wing", he said. Those who break the new flying restrictions and conditions could be fined up to $3,000.

"If you are a pilot, you have very strict rules that you have to work by, so it is also important that we establish strict rules for other unmanned objects that are going to go into the airspace, because they are going to be sharing the airspace", Garneau said.

Garneau said the public will be able to provide feedback on the draft regulations once they're formulated.

Garneau said the new rules should go a long way to ensuring safe drone use and won't harm growth in the drone industry.

In fact, Minister Garneau did acknowledge the tremendous benefits drones can bring including precision agriculture, monitoring wildlife and providing first-responders with a birds-eye view, saying the intent is not to restrict drones to the point "that we hinder innovation".

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