Drone pilots in Canada are in for some strict new regulations this year, according to an announcement made by the Ministry of Transportation on Wednesday.

The new regulations come into effect on June 1st, 2019, and cover topics like where drones can fly and what they’re allowed to carry.

“The government is resolved to improve the security of aviation and of the public,” said Transport Minister Marc Garneau in a news conference.

“At the same time we are also resolved to encourage and support the possibilities of innovation and economic growth that drones represent.”

The regulations apply to drones that weigh upwards of 250 grams, and licensing will be categorized as ‘Basic’ or ‘Advanced’, depending on what your plans are.

The specifics

Besides pilot certification, drones weighing between 250 grams and 25 kg will have to be registered, and the new regulations will prohibit drones from flying near airports and emergency scenes.

Drone pilots are also prohibited from operating their devices while intoxicated.

The new regulations for individual pilots include:

  • Must be able to see the drone at all times
  • Drone must be below 122 metres (400 feet) in the air
  • Drones must stay a minimum distance of 30 metres away from bystanders
  • Must keep away from emergency operations and advertised events, particularly forest fires, outdoor concerts, and parades.
  • Must stay a minimum distance away from airports and heliports
  • 5.6 kilometres (3 nautical miles) from airports
  • 1.9 kilometres (1 nautical mile) from heliports
  • Must never be near any aircraft.

Pilots who break the new rules can face “serious penalties”, including fines or jail time.

Fines for individuals include:

  • Up to $1,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
  • Up to $1,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
  • Up to $1,000 for flying where you are not allowed
  • Up to $3,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk

“This is very serious. If you put an object in the air, in the airspace of this country, you are in fact piloting it and if you cause an accident, that can have enormous repercussions,” said Garneau.

“Our new regulations will create new opportunities for Canadians by establishing a safe and predictable regulatory environment where the industry can innovate and where recreational and non-recreational drone pilots can safely access Canadian airspace.”

Further information on the upcoming regulations can be found on Transport Canada’s website here.

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