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12:29 PM, January 11, 2019
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Marc Garneau (image: Toronto Star)

The Canadian government has imposed new regulations for flying drones to improve the security of aviation and safety of public, on Wednesday. The rules will come into effect on June 1, 2019.

The federal government has prohibited flying drones near airports and emergency scenes. Also, all drones need to be operated within the drone pilot’s visual-line-of-sight.

"The government is resolved to improve the security of aviation and of the public. At the same time we are also resolved to encourage and support the possibilities of innovation and economic growth that drones represent," Marc Garneau, Transport Minister, said Wednesday.

Operators of the drone will be penalised if the drone is posing a risk for aircraft and passengers, if the operators are not certified and if the drones are not registered. Individuals who break the rules could face fines of up to $3,000 while Corporations can be fined up to $25,000, according to the statement issued by the government.

“Someone who deliberately disrupts traffic at an airport could even face jail time”, Garneau said.

The new regulations will apply to all drones weighing between 250 grams and 25 kilograms. Special permission is required to fly a drone weighing over 25 kilograms. Operators of micro drones weighing under 250 grams should fly them responsibly.

"Science demonstrates that drones 300 grams and (heavier) at full speed can cause damage to a cockpit," CBC quoted Delphine Denis, spokesperson for Garneau as saying.

Only drone pilots who need to fly a drone outside the rules for basic or advanced operations will need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) before they fly.

Drone pilots will need to have their Pilot Certificate and proof of registration readily available when flying their drone as of June 1, 2019. This can mean having an electronic version available on their mobile device or carrying a printed copy.

The decision to enforce restrictions has come after drone sightings lead to the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights and affected the travel of 140,000 passengers before Christmas at Gatwick airport last year. And according to an estimate by UK Aviation experts, 92 near collisions between drones and aircraft occurred in 2018.

Such incidents are not alien to Canada. A small drone collided with a passenger plane in the skies above Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City in October 2017, resulting in minor damage. Nobody was hurt in the incident.

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