A collision between a drone and a commercial aircraft approaching Quebec City’s Jean Lesage International Airport last week has drawn the wrath of Canada’s usually placid federal transport minister, Marc Garneau.
“This should not have happened, that drone should not have been there, and it’s important to point out that aircraft are particularly vulnerable when they are on their final approach,” Garneau, a former NASA astronaut, said at a press conference Sunday in Montreal.
The Skyjet plane with eight people on board was arriving from the city of Rouyn-Noranda and landed safely, suffering only minor damage.
Garneau estimated that the collision occurred about three kilometres from the airport at a height of 450 metres.
It was the first time in Canada a drone has hit a commercial aircraft in Canada, but the national chairperson of the Canadian Federal Pilots’ Association, Greg McConnell, said such an incident “was just a matter of time.”
“There are a lot of drones flying, and there are a lot of people flying drones thinking they’re toys,” McConnell told the Canadian Press news agency.
Transport Canada instituted safety measures regarding drone flights earlier this year. Final measures are expected to be finalized in 2018.
Current rules say drones should be flown below 90 metres and at least 5.5 kilometres away from any airport, seaplane base or areas where aircraft take off and land.
Violations can result in a $25-thousand fine and possible jail time.
Transport Canada says 1,596 incidents involving drones have been reported this year with 131 of them deemed aviation safety concerns.
With files from Canadian Press, CBC, CTV