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News & Notes

Canada Loosens Drone Regulations

Smaller drones can fly closer to people

June 29, 2017

Transport Canada released an interim order on Monday updating some of its most restrictive hobbyist drone regulations. When the government agency released its hobby rules back in March, the public was not necessarily pleased.

In Canada, interim orders are made when a Minister “believes that immediate action is required to deal with a significant risk, direct or indirect, to health, safety or the environment.”

Previously, the smallest weight class of drones (.55 pounds to 2.2 pounds) was required to maintain at least 246 feet of distance from vehicles, vessels, and people. This distance has been decreased to 98 feet. Heavier drones (2.2 pounds to 77 pounds), still have to obey the 246 feet requirement. 

The interim order also specifies new rules for hobbyist drone operation near aerodromes. Hobby drones cannot be flown within 3 nautical miles of a non-helicopter aerodrome or within 1 nautical mile of a heliport or helicopter-exclusive aerodrome.

"The revised Interim Order is a step in the right direction,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI vice president of policy and legal affairs, in a DJI press release on the updated regulations. “The extremely restrictive rules in the original Order prohibited a wide range of perfectly safe activities that are permitted by many other jurisdictions worldwide. The new version delivers some improvements. We commend the government for taking this step while working on permanent rules.”

Canada’s new regulations echo the attempts in the U.S. to establish variable drone regulations using a risk-based approach. Perhaps our neighbors to the north will help establish the micro-UAS framework that many in the industry are waiting for.
Featured image: Drew Halverson