Nfld. & Labrador

The sky comes with limits for drone operators

An airline pilot and owner of a local company that supplies drones for commercial use says Transport Canada should do more to inform the public about laws around the recreational use of drones.
Pilot Chris Legrow urges amateur drone users to operator the machines far away from airports. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

An airline pilot and owner of a local company that supplies drones for commercial use says Transport Canada should do more to inform the public about laws around the recreational use of drones.

Chris Legrow of Cloudbreaker said companies like his needs federal approval to fly, but the average enthusiast does not, which can lead to risky situations.

"Aviation is a highly regulated industry and you have a lot of highly trained professionals in it — and now we have a new user in that airspace," Legrow told CBC Radio's CrossTalk Tuesday.

"For instance, a general rule of thumb  nowhere within nine kilometres of an airport. That pretty much excludes all of St. John's," he said.

Legrow said while big plane engines are designed to deal with birds, a mechanical drone could easily cause a crash.

Philip Sullivan deployed his aerial drone over some walking trails in Conception Bay South in late February in search of a missing dog.

"Some of [the drones] can be quite heavy and obviously have metal parts in them. It's certainly something we're keeping an eye on from a pilot's perspective."

He said St. John's International Airport recorded two drone sightings near the airport last year.

In addition to airplane safety, Legrow said drones have been known to fly off without the operator prompting them to do so, and there are privacy issues associated with the aerial cameras.

On a positive note, Legrow said that unmanned aerial vehicles are becoming a great asset for everything from police investigations to search and rescue.

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