​Canada cracks down on recreational drone use

The Canadian government has made immediate changes to the Aeronautical Act, including restricting recreational drone flying height to 90 metres.

Canada is bringing in strict measures for the recreational use of drones, with Transport Minister Marc Garneau announcing new restrictions on Thursday to curb the number of incidents in which recreational drones have flown too close to planes.

Under the new restrictions announced as part of the Aeronautical Act, recreational drone -- or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) -- operators must now mark their devices with contact information, and cannot fly them at night or in cloudy conditions.

Drones are now also not allowed to fly higher than 90 metres; within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles, or people; within 9 kilometres of airports, heliports, seaplane bases, or anywhere aircraft take off and land; within controlled or restricted airspaces; within 9 kilometres of a forest fire where it could interfere with police or first responders; and if operators are not within 500 metres of their drone.

Penalties include fines of up to CA$3,000 for individuals and up to CA$15,000 for corporations for failing to follow the new restrictions.

"I'm taking strong measures now before a drone hits an aeroplane and causes a catastrophic event. That's the kind of nightmare scenario that keeps me awake at night," Garneau said.

Recreational drones that weigh between 250 grams and 35 kilograms do not need special permission from Transport Canada to fly, and a person operating a recreational drone must give way to manned aircraft at all times.

Commercial, academic, and research drones are exempt from the new restrictions; however, operators must follow the rules in the Canadian Aviation Regulations section 602.41 - Unmanned air vehicles and respect the Criminal Code, your provincial Trespass Act, as well as all applicable municipal, provincial, and territorial laws that apply, the Canadian government explained, with those not obeying potentially copping up to CA$25,000 in fines and/or jail time.

As of September, commercial operators of "very small remotely piloted aircraft" in Australia were no longer required to obtain a number of regulatory approvals to fly their unmanned vehicles under new regulations approved by the Australian government in April.

Under the changes, the government also gave the directive to drop the terms "drone" and "unmanned aerial vehicle" and replace them with "remotely piloted aircraft" (RPA) to align itself with International Civil Aviation Organization terminology.

The changes apply to RPA used in commercial operations weighing less than 2 kilograms maximum take-off weight. Under the new rules, drone operators must also notify the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority that they intend to fly their aircraft and adhere to a set of standard operating conditions, which include flying only during the day within a visual line of sight; below 120 metres; more than 30 metres away from other people; more than 5.5 kilometres from controlled aerodromes; and not near emergency situations.

With AAP