B.C. drone pilot Jeffrey Russel, 50, has been fined $3,000 for flying his homebuilt drone around Port Alberni Harbour. The harbour is host to dozens of seaplanes and several airlines offer scheduled floatplane service there so his test flights over the base were a real risk to aviation. Current rules ban drone operations within three nautical miles of any aerodrome and the seaplane base at Port Alberni is included. New rules come into effect June 1 and while they are somewhat more relaxed Russel would likely still have been in violation of them.
Although many operators have been fined for illegal drone operations, this case was unusual in that it was prosecuted in the courts system. When police confronted Russel, they confiscated his drone, which he told the court he’d spent $3,000 developing. In addition to the fine, the judge in the case ordered the drone be returned but told him he can’t fly it for a year.