Near miss between drone and EPS helicopter ‘could have been catastrophic,’ police warn

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Edmonton police warn close call with drone could have been ‘catastrophic’
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton police are warning the public to be more careful with their drones after their police helicopter nearly collided with one of the devices last month. The pilot says a mid-air crash could have been disastrous but as Kent Morrison explains, the laws are still murky about when and where drones can be flown – Aug 5, 2016

Edmonton police are warning people about the rules surrounding Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – or drones – after the police service’s helicopter Air 1 nearly collided with one in July.

The EPS said at around 10 p.m. on July 8, Air 1 was responding to a call downtown when it had a near midair crash with a drone.

Police said the Air 1 helicopter pilot was flying southeast 457 meters in the air at about 180 km/h when he saw what looked like a white quadcopter-style drone with red lights.

The UAV was coming towards the helicopter and missed Air 1 by about 15 meters, according to EPS.

READ MORE: New drone rules coming next year: Transport Canada 

“Had the UAV and helicopter collided, it certainly could have been catastrophic and potentially fatal for both crew members of Air 1,” EPS Const. and flight crew member Brian Griffith said.

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“The Tactical Flight Officer was focused on a monitor in the cockpit yet still observed the drone in his peripheral vision which speaks to how close the UAV passed to the helicopter.”

Police said two smaller UAVs were also seen in the same area about 30 minutes later.

Transport Canada ‎has been made aware of the incident. EPS said a “criminal investigation is ongoing as there are potential criminal charges, as well as charges under the Aeronautics Act.”

Anyone with information related to this event is asked to call police at 780-423-4567.

READ MORE: Drone rules called into question after close call in Winnipeg airspace 

Right now Canada’s UAV rules are very different depending on whether your drone is “recreational” or “commercial” – depending essentially on whether you’re using it for fun, or to make money.

Without a special permit, drones are not allowed to fly within nine kilometres of an airport, or higher than 90 metres.

Click here for Transport Canada’s No Drone Zones.

Pilot and air plane associations have raised concerns about the risk drones pose to aircraft in the past.

Last year, there were 82 drone-related incidents – more than double the 38 incidents in 2014, according to a search of Transport Canada’s Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System.

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READ MORE: Drones increasingly buzzing too close to Canadian airports

Transport Canada plans to have new rules regulating drones by 2017.

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