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Drone rules called into question after close call in Winnipeg airspace

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Drone rules called into question after close call in Winnipeg airspace – Jun 13, 2016

WINNIPEG — Drone rules and regulations are being called into question following a close encounter near the Winnipeg airport over the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, a pilot landing his plane at Winnipeg’s airport spotted a drone flying about 25 metres from the plane while they were still 900 metres up in the air, police said.

The plane landed safely and officers are looking for the drone’s operator.

Police said while they can’t comment on what type of catastrophic disaster could have resulted in the event of a collision, the distraction factor is a hazard in itself.

Michael Badejo with Winnipeg Airports Authority said, “The size of the drones should not be deceiving. You don’t want to underestimate the significance of that especially, just because of the danger that it poses to planes, to damage planes, to people who are travelling.”

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Similar to laser pointers, officers said drones pose a risk of distracting a pilot and therefore causing risk to anyone on board.

RELATED: Winnipeg teen arrested for aiming a laser pointer at Air1

This is the first time a drone and plane have gotten this close to one another mid-air, according to police.

Even those selling drones have one thing to say to the rule breakers. Ryan Gobeil with Eliminator RC Hobby Supply said, “it’s just crazy to me how people are so irresponsible.”

There are many rules and regulations regarding proper drone operations. The do’s and don’ts of drone flying according to the Transport Canada website can be found below:

Do:

  • Fly your drone during daylight and in good weather (not in clouds or fog).
  • Keep your drone in sight, where you can see it with your own eyes – not only through an on-board camera, monitor or smartphone.
  • Make sure your drone is safe for flight before take-off. Ask yourself, for example, are the batteries fully charged? Is it too cold to fly?
  • Know if you need to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC).
  • Respect the privacy of others – avoid flying over private property or taking photos or videos without permission.

Don’t fly: 

  • closer than nine km (five nm) from any aerodrome (i.e. airport, heliport, helipad or seaplane base, etc.)
  • higher than 90 metres (300 feet) above the ground
  • closer than 150 metres (500 feet) from people, animals, buildings, structures, or vehicles
  • in populated areas or near large groups of people, including sporting events, concerts, festivals, and firework shows

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