Drone Education Program Launched

Officials are trying to prevent drone use near airports.
Officials are trying to prevent drone use near airports.

Tens of thousands of toy unmanned aerial systems are expected under Christmas trees this holiday season and various entities are trying to keep them out of the way of airplanes.

Signs are going up at parking lots, parks and viewing areas around major airports reminding people that it’s illegal to fly the aircraft, known popularly as drones, within five nautical miles of a registered aerodrome.

Although commercial use of sUAS is regulated and has a relatively well understood structure, most of those buying (or receiving) drones this Christmas have little concept of the web of rules that govern the airspace they can now access.

“Drones are not simply toys, they are aircraft and need to be operated safely,“ said Transport Canada’s Shari Currie at a media event in Vancouver on Tuesday. “That is why we have launched a safety awareness campaign.”

The maximum fine for flying too close to an airport is $25,000 but the emphasis of this program is on education rather than enforcement.

“Take a local drone course,” Declan Sweeney, of Unmanned Systems Canada told media. “And parents buying one, make sure your kids are prepared. Do they understand responsible use?”

On Monday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced a mandatory registration requirement for all drones weighing more than 500 grams. The aircraft must have a unique registration number permanently marked on it so its owner can be found if the drone is involved in illegal or unsafe activity.

Although Transport Canada hasn’t announced a similar plan, it often matches the FAA on these sorts of initiatives.