Flying drones is fun, but it will have its consequences, and strict ones, at least in Canada. The transportation minister of Canada, Marc Garneau announced new restrictions on recreational drone flying, and if any rules are broken, there will be substantial punishments.
The rules apply to recreational drones weighing between 250 grams to 35 kgs, which do not require special permissions from Transport Canada for flying. If caught breaking the rules, the users will be fined $3,000 ($2,248 USD), and the authorities have been clever. Your drone needs to be marked with your name, address, and phone number. You can not fly your drone: higher than 90 meters, more than 500 meters away from you, within a 75-meter distance of a building or vehicle, closer than 9km of an aerodrome, in the clouds or any place lacking visibility. These are just a few; Transport Canada tweeted a full list so that no one misses out:
— Transport Canada (@Transport_gc) March 16, 2017
The regulations did not just pop out of the blue. In the recent times when drones became overly common, the authorities started to receive complaints. Just during the last year, the Police received 148 calls for drone safety, which in 2015 were only 85. Previously, the police dealt these issues as criminal negligence, but that does not look very practical. RCMP Chief Supt. Brian Stubbs explained, “These regulations will give us a [less harsh] way to manage these types of calls. Of course, discretion is a part of this as well too. Police officers have the discretion just to educate, perhaps, an operator of a drone, all the way to [using] the Criminal Code.”
Even though most of the rules make sense, some sound absurd to most people. The minister commented, “I believe that we have to strike the right balance between encouraging the drone industry, but doing it responsibly.” But looking at the restriction about not flying a drone within 75 meters of a building, vehicle or even an animal, people have been skeptical if it is just for the sake of responsibility or for banning the drone usage almost entirely.
— John Bowman (@johnbowman) March 16, 2017
You live in a city; buildings are everywhere, where do you fly your drone?
— Sam Broomfield (@SaMBroomfied) March 16, 2017
If you consider flying it away from buildings, what about the animals. This tweet here asks a legitimate question, what animals exactly?
@Transport_gc this basically makes it nearly impossible to fly it anywhere? can't fly closer than 75m from an animal, do squirrels count??
— Alyssa Talbot (@alyssatalb) March 16, 2017
There is absolutely no doubt that the restrictions were needed, but the drone manufacturers question if they really needed to be as strict as these. The head of policy at DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer commented, “I’m very surprised. There was no consultation with any relevant stakeholders before this announcement was made.”
Even scarier than the rules are the fines. The most strict of the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) punishments do not fine more than $1,414 for any felony.