SOURCE: Air Canada Pilots Association

Air Canada Pilots Association

June 13, 2016 17:20 ET

Air Canada Pilots Association Supports Transport Minister's Efforts to Raise Awareness of Dangers Posed by Drones Operated in Restricted Airspace

Association Calls for Mandatory Registration for All Drones and Mandatory Education for Operators in Canada

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - June 13, 2016) - The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) supports Minister of Transport Marc Garneau's efforts aimed at drawing greater attention to the danger posed by drones operated in restricted airspace.

"We strongly support all efforts -- by the Minister of Transport and others -- to raise awareness of the risk involved in operating drones in restricted airspace," said Captain Ed Bunoza, Chair of ACPA's Flight Safety Division. "Particularly in light of the events last month where our pilots reported a drone in their airspace as they were on approach to Ottawa airport, there is no question that this needs urgent attention at the highest levels. We look forward to continuing to work with Transport Canada as they work to update regulations in this area."

Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (or UAVs), controlled remotely by an operator, which can vary in size (generally under 2 kg for recreational use and over 2 kg for commercial applications). They are being increasingly tested for commercial applications, with companies as diverse as Amazon and the Australian Postal Service recently conducting trials of small package delivery.

Drones operating near an aircraft pose a risk to passengers, crews and the general public near airports -- with the greatest concern being during the take-off or landing phases. "You would not want anything flying in restricted airspace to distract a pilot during these critical phases of flight," noted Capt. Bunoza. "Not to mention that even at the smallest sizes, drones could cause significant damage to an aircraft or engine."

Mandatory education should be the standard

As their popularity increases with Canadian businesses, so too are hobbyists making significant inroads into this market. It's important that, at the time of purchase, every drone operator be provided with information so that they are aware of Canada's restrictions on use and the consequences of reckless operation.

"You can walk into almost any electronics store today and buy a drone. Some of these drones cost less than $100 and are marketed to photographers and videographers. But there are some who are sold to kids. Anyone can walk out of the store with a drone, with no mandatory education, and start to fly them. That needs to change," said Capt. Bunoza.

In the US, some lobby groups have even called for a mandatory locking/key code for all drones that would only be unlocked after the owner completes an online training course.

Mandatory registration can help track reckless operators

The Air Canada Pilots Association also believes that new regulations should require mandatory registration for all drones sold in Canada.

"We are concerned that Canadian regulations are falling behind in this area," Capt. Bunoza added. "At least in the US, if there were ever an incident involving a drone, authorities can track the responsible party to ensure appropriate consequences."

In December 2015, the FAA introduced rules in the US that required mandatory registration for all drones between 250 g and 25 kg. Drone owners were given a one-month time-frame for initial registration, and all purchasers of new drones are required to register them before the first outdoor flight. Owners receive a certificate and registration number, which must be marked on every drone the owner operates.

Strong penalties are key

ACPA supports the Minister of Transport's campaign to reinforce penalties for drone operators who do not fly by the rules.

"The penalties should be high," noted Capt. Bunoza. "Whether an operator is taking his or her drone into restricted airspace intentionally or unintentionally is irrelevant. It is still a reckless act that can put an aircraft, crew and passengers at serious risk. If a drone operator does that, we think strong penalties are entirely appropriate as a deterrent."

The Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA) is the largest professional pilot group in Canada, representing more than 3,200 pilots who fly millions of passengers across Canada and around the world on Air Canada and Air Canada rouge.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Maria Hypponen
    Manager of Communications
    Air Canada Pilots Association
    1-800-634-0944 ext. 4025