Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians cash in on illegal drone use

Commercial drone users in Nova Scotia say there's a growing number of people using their drones illegally to make money.

Commercial drone users say 'biggest issue' they face is illegal use of drones to make money

Mark Langille a partner at flitelab in Halifax says some recreational drone users are breaking the rules and using their machines to make money. (flitelab)

Commercial drone users in Nova Scotia say there's a growing number of people using their drones illegally to make money. 

"That is one of the biggest issues, we face it all the time," said Mark Langille a partner at flitelab in Halifax, which uses drones for a wide range of jobs including photography and gathering video for the movie industry. 

"Somebody bought a drone for Christmas and they get the idea hey I can use this for work. Be it, I want to take pictures, I'm a real estate agent or I will take it into my company and see if we can use it." 

"The rules are basically night and day different between recreational and commercial."   

Recreational versus commercial use

In an email to CBC News, Transport Canada says that an operator using a drone for work needs to have a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

If a business doesn't have that certificate, they could be fined up to $25,000. An individual could be fined up to $5,000. 

Recreational operators don't need that certificate unless their drone weighs more than 35 kilograms. 

All drone users must respect the Canadian Aviation Regulations and are subject to the criminal code and all laws surrounding trespassing and privacy, according to Transport Canada.

"On the recreational side there really isn't a lot of regulation, you can pretty much fly when and where you feel like it. Once you cross over to do commercial work you basically then are deemed basically an aircraft," said Langille. 

Drone users offered money

Photographer Warren Gordon uses drones in his business to help him take pictures of scenery.

"Everybody who gets one eventually is offered by somebody, 'Oh well could you photograph my property or my home and I'll give you a $100,'" said Gordon. 

"Lots of people who have them for hobbies eventually use them for business purposes without all the proper permits and insurance and everything and that's going to be a problem."

Warren Gordon says it's helpful to have a drone to move around trees and other obstructions to capture hard to shoot landscape pictures. (Submitted by Warren Gordon )

Langille said the fines aren't the biggest concern if someone turns their recreational drone into a tool for business. 

He said without special liability insurance any accident with a drone could become extremely costly. 

"You could personally become liable and on the hook if something were to go wrong, and that's what I think people need to watch out for. The threat of fine is there but it's not as great as the threat of  you know losing your home if something were to happen." 


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