Quebecers like to fly drones illegally, it seems.

Since January 2014, all 12 of the fines Transport Canada has handed out for illegal drone-flying have been in Quebec — and with a maximum of $25,000, the fines can get pretty steep.

On top of that, Quebec is also home to 36 of the 69 drone-related accidents that were investigated by Transport Canada last year, although most of them were minor.

Too few permits in Quebec?

In Canada, people don't need a permit to fly drones recreationally, but they do have to follow Transport Canada's rules. Those rules include not flying near an airport or residential area.

The transportation authority asks drone users to respect other people's private lives and fly their machines during the daytime under clear skies for maximum visibility.

People who fly drones for commercial purposes need a special flight operating certificate to do so. Last year, 127 certificates were handed out in the province.

In comparison, 734 certificates were handed out in Ontario during the same period. A total of 1,672 permits were given out across the country.

Transport Canada fines 

People who should have an SFOC but don't:

  • Individuals: Up to $5,000.
  • Businesses: Up to $25,000.

People who don't follow the conditions of their SFOC:

  • Individuals: Up to $3,000.
  • Businesses: $15,000.

Yet Quebec videographer Julien Gramigna was fined $1,000 for using a camera strapped to a drone to film something he sold to a real estate agent.

Gramigna said Transport Canada's strict rules have caused him to lose out on other job opportunities.


Drones like this one can stream live, high-definition aerial images to users as they're flown. (Reuters)

"I have a client who calls, says he'd like to have, for example, an aerial view of his condo project to show to his clients," Gramigna said.

But before he can sign a contract he needs to get authorization from Transport Canada — a process that can take weeks. The videographer already has eight pending authorization requests.

He also questioned whether Quebec was more heavily policed than other provinces.

"Canadian aviation rules apply to the entire country. Transport Canada has a sufficient number of inspectors who work to maintain Canada's strong record of aviation safety, including in all regions," said Roxane Marchand of the federal transportation regulator.

Read Bahador Zabihiyan's series on drones for Radio-Canada (in French) here:

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Bahador Zabihiyan