Ottawa Proposes More Drone Regulations
Trevor Bergmann is the CEO and founder of AeroVision Canada, based in Beechville.
While the drone industry continues to soar, Ottawa wants to expand regulations for drone operators for the second time this year that will further control their recreational use and increase potential infractions.
On Friday, Transport Canada published an impact analysis in the weekly Canada Gazette Part 1 regarding its proposed changes to aviation regulations for unmanned aerial vehicle operations that will affect both recreational and commercial users.
Trevor Bergmann, founder and CEO AeroVision Canada Inc., based in Beechville, says it’s not all doom and gloom for his company. But he questions the calculation estimates used in the analysis and said he’s not entirely sure what the ultimate cost will be to companies like his.
The intent, says Transport Canada, is to mitigate risk by applying more stringent requirements based on device weight or areas of operations.
“But what’s being proposed for all doesn’t appear to differentiate between people who fly for fun versus those who use them every day,” said Bergmann.
Those flying small devices weighing 250 grams and less than 25 kilograms still don’t require special permission from Transport Canada to fly, but the proposed regulations expand on the ones implemented in March 2017 to include: not flying in cloud, using another person as an observer if the device uses a first-person view mechanism such as streaming video, and having liability insurance of at least $100,000.
Transport Canada estimates the insurance could cost recreational users $15 annually in addition to a $35 course.
Additional requirements are then specified by weight and use. For example, users of smaller devices of more than 250g but less than one kilogram must be at least 14 years of age, pass a written knowledge test, and operate during the day only within parameters specified.
Those using small devices between one and 25kg for limited operations — such as real-estate agents, building inspectors, research and development, or academic applications — must be 16 years old and must fly within even more stringently defined parameters.
ΤBergmann said he agrees in principle with how they’ve structured the draft regulations for enterprise (commercial) users but said he will be making some recommendations for changes, especially regarding the complex flight operations his company does, which include inspections for onshore and offshore energy projects, from wind turbines to oil and gas rigs.
The company announced last week it had completed its 100th wind turbine inspection with additional towers to add before the year’s end, and plans to expand operations to increase its full-time employment from five to 12.
Bergmann added he’s disappointed that drone manufacturers appear to have been consulted by the department, but not professional companies such as his which generate the income for the industry.
“We may only represent 25 per cent of the total industry, but it’s our sector that generates the jobs, the income and the tax that amplifies the economic impact,” Bergmann said in an interview.
Bergmann said he’d like to see Transport Canada interact better with all industry stakeholders so it works to everyone’s advantage and helps the federal government stay on top of a “dynamic” industry.
He said there are about 12 companies in Atlantic Canada using the technology for commercial applications, full-time and year-round.
“I’ve invited them to come see us and learn about our operations, but they’ve never taken me up on it,” he said.
Bergmann would like to see the companies who use the technology for commercial applications full-time get together and provide a united voice on their recommendations within the 90-day comment period.
A national drone tech conference, Techspo, takes place in Toronto from Nov. 1-3, but by then the time to weigh in will have expired, he said.