A drone flies as an airplane is seen in the background outside Zurich on August 23, 2017. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

Canada introduces new drone regulations

The federal government has adopted tough new regulations for the use of drones in Canadian airspace, banning drone flights near airports and emergency scenes, as well as operating them while drunk or high on drugs.

The new regulations, which come into effect as of June 1, will also require drone operators to register their drones and pass an online test to receive certification to continue operating them, said Transport Minister Marc Garneau as he unveiled the new rules in Montreal Wednesday.

These new changes apply to drones that weigh between 250 grams and 25 kilograms and are operated within the pilot’s line of sight, regardless of whether the drones are being used for work, research or for fun, Garneau said.

“The government is resolved to improve the security of aviation and of the public,” Garneau told reporters in Montreal. “At the same time we are also resolved to encourage and support the possibilities of innovation and economic growth that drones represent.”

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announces new rules to fly a drone in Canada during a news conference in Montreal on Wednesday, January 9, 2019. (Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)


The new rules require drone operators to:

  • register and mark the drone with its registration number
  • pass an online exam and get a pilot certificate for basic or advanced operations
  • be a minimum age of 14 for basic and 16 for advanced operations, unless supervised by a person having proper certificates
  • fly their drones no higher than 122 metres (400 feet) in the air
  • stay away from bystanders, at a minimum distance of 30 metres for basic operations
  • keep away from emergency operations and advertised events
  • avoid forest fires, outdoor concerts and parades
  • drones are prohibited within 5.6 kilometres (3 nautical miles) from airports and 1.9 kilometres (1 nautical mile) from heliports
  • they must keep far away from other aircraft
  • drone operators are expected to always respect the privacy of others while flying

“This is very serious,” Garneau said. “If you put an object in the air, in the airspace of this country, you are in fact piloting it and if you cause an accident that can have enormous repercussions.”

The new regulations come with steep fines of up $25,000 or even criminal prosecution for certain infractions that endanger safety of other people or aircraft.

It will cost $5 to register a drone, and the pilot exam for basic operations costs $10, while the test for advanced drone operations is $25.

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