Transport Canada Reflects, Resets Drone LawsTransport Canada is proposing that anyone flying a drone weighing more than 250 grams, including recreational users, should fall under more rigorous regulations expected to be introduced in 2017.

“The proposed floor for very small UAVs is intended to minimize the risks to persons, based on the speed and potential lethality,” the briefing note says. It adds that even “very small” drones can travel quickly and impart so much energy upon impact that there is a 30 per cent “likelihood of lethality.”

“We need to regulate that to make sure that we don’t have a disaster,” said Aaron McCrorie, Transport Canada’s director general of civil aviation, in an interview. “The recreational users are going to have to meet more stringent safety requirements now.”

McCrorie has seen a dramatic increase not only in the number of people buying drones, but also the number of users flying them dangerously close to airplanes and buildings.

“We do have instances of these things crashing into vehicles, for example, so there has to be some means of accounting for the cost of those damages,” McCrorie said, emphasizing the need for liability insurance.

In 2010, the department investigated one incident. In 2016, the department has investigated 82 potential infractions as of Sept. 1.

Transport Canada is also considering age restrictions for drone users, as exists for pilots. The department is proposing a minimum age of 14 to operate a very small drone and a minimum of 16 to operate a drone heavier than one kilogram, according to a briefing note from April.

The government also plans to stop regulating based on recreational versus commercial use.

The new model is based on how much potential risk a drone could cause based on its weight and where it’s flown, according to Transport Canada.

“Because I’m a hobbyist, not a commercial flyer, I haven’t been able to find any insurance companies that will provide insurance,” Robertson said. “The insurance companies, at this point, are only interested in commercial fliers.”

Meanwhile, the proposed regulations could mean a lot less red tape for those using drones for commercial use, such as making real estate videos or inspecting construction sites. Instead of having to reapply at least every year for a certificate to fly drones commercially, it could get a lot easier.

“You go through the process once and then you’ll have a licence just like having an automobile licence,” said Mark Aruja, chairman of the Board for Unmanned Systems Canada, a group that co-chaired the working group to help develop
the regulations.

Transport Canada launched consultations in 2015 and received more than 100 written submissions. Staff members are currently drafting the regulations that could still change, and working to develop the necessary licensing and exams before the regulations come into effect, likely sometime in 2017.

It’s easy to guess who is going to hate the idea of licensing and insurance. Anything that slows down retail consumption is by definition bad.
Currently, in the US one can fly a drone under any of four sets of rules – 333, 107, consumer registration, model/hobbyist under CBO.  Each rule is slightly different and the differences in licensing are enormous. What I admire so much here is the recognition that a half-pounder (250 gram) drone can cause considerable damage and should be regulated based on that potential not on whether it is recreational or commercial. That approach could go a long way to harmonizing the
different regulations.
And I can only hope that the recognition of the danger presented by a half-pounder, which has been ably expressed in some very solid research makes it into the Micro ARC NPRM which is due by the end of 2016.




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