Saskatoon Airport seeing increase in recreational drone incidents, pleased with changing regulations
Published Sunday, March 19, 2017 4:01PM CST
Last Updated Sunday, March 19, 2017 6:43PM CST
Recreational drone users in Canada are facing new restrictions on where and when they can fly after Transport Canada announced its latest guidelines last week.
The Saskatoon Airport hasn’t seen a lot of drone incidents, but the numbers are going up.
“(In) the last five years, we’ve had two incidents,” said Andrew Leeming with the Saskatoon Airport Authority. “But, both of those have happened in the last six months, so that tells you about the ramp up.”
Leeming says both of those cases saw drones within 150 feet of the airport, causing tense moments for airline pilots and their passengers.
“If the engine ingests it or damages the aircraft, at the very least they could interfere with the full-functioning of the aircraft,” Leeming said. “Or, it could be a serious safety hazard.”
New drone regulations mean recreational users can’t fly within nine kilometres of an airport or within 75 metres of any people. Drones can only fly to a height of 90 metres and they can’t be flown at night or in cloudy conditions.
Express Hobbies sells up to 400 drones a year. Those sales do come with some concerns.
“You get people picking up things nice and easy offline, and going out and having fun,” said co-owner Darren Sutcliffe. “But, they don’t really recognize the possible issues that could be happening.”
Sutcliffe also helps out at the Hub City Radio Control Club in Saskatoon. The 87 members can be certified by the Model Avionic Association of Canada.
“It’s very handy to get into a club or an organization across Canada that has some of the safety tips, some of the safety tricks,” Sutcliffe said.
The Saskatoon Airport says there are plans to install “No drone” signs around the property by the end of the month. Officials are also in preliminary discussions with the City of Saskatoon about possible locations for the signs in areas around the airport.
Based on a report by CTV's Mark Villani