Man who allegedly dove into Halifax Harbour to recover drone sparks concerns over safety

Click to play video: 'Man allegedly diving into Halifax harbor to recover drone sparks conversation about drone safety'
Man allegedly diving into Halifax harbor to recover drone sparks conversation about drone safety
A social media picture of a man allegedly diving into the Halifax harbour to recover his drone has sparked conversation around the importance of following unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) regulations. – Jul 5, 2017

The days of being able to legally fly drones in downtown Halifax are long gone due to updated rules and regulations from regulatory enforcer, Transport Canada.

“I’ve flown over Halifax Harbour here a bunch of times, can’t do that anymore but certainly it was enjoyable while it lasted,” said David Fraser, a privacy lawyer and drone enthusiast.

But on Canada Day, a picture circulated on social media showing a man in the Halifax Harbour allegedly searching for his crashed drone.

Commercial drone specialists say multiple airfields, or aerodromes, around the Halifax area create safety hazards and are part of the reason why it’s important for fliers to adhere to the regulations.

“It could be loss of life, it could be disastrous, depending on where you fly. If you’re in close proximity to an airfield, an aerodrome. So think of even ‘LifeFlight’ who flies downtown constantly to Point Pleasant Park. If you’re flying your drone down there you can definitely put them at risk,”  said Jean Racine, the chief operating officer of AeroVision Canada.

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Fraser believes “irresponsible” drone users have led to an overhaul on restrictions.

“One of the big problems is that people who have acted irresponsibly have kind of ruined the fun for everybody else. The reason why these rules are so restrictive is because we’ve heard about a whole bunch of examples that have been problematic that have maybe even caused risk to aviation safety flying around airports,” Fraser said.

Violators of Transport Canada guidelines could face thousands of dollars in fines, but enforcement is challenging.

“It may be the only evidence you have is somebody posted something on YouTube, while the enforcement folks have no idea when those images were taken, under what circumstances and so on,” Fraser said.

Racine recommends anyone looking to use or purchase drones, heavily research the rules before they fly.

“The more knowledge that you know and the more efficient that you are, as far as keeping up with the rules and regulations because they change quite often, the better the industry’s going to be in the end,” he said.

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