Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay film maker says new drone regulations will "put him out of business."

Thunder Bay based film maker says the new Federal drone regulations, introduced earlier this week will have a major impact on his business. Alan Auld, who owns Imagine Films, says the regulations willl ground small operators like him and make it very expensive to get aerial work done in this city.

Alan Auld says he cannot afford a drone that costs between 30 and $40,000

Film maker Alan Auld, of Thunder Bay, flies a drone near Thunder Bay. (Izabela Pioro)

A Thunder Bay based film-maker says the new federal drone regulations, introduced earlier this week, will have a major impact on his business.

Alan Auld, who owns Imagine Films, said the regulations will ground small operators like him and make it very expensive to get aerial work done in the city.

Auld said after the new regulations come in on June 1, he will need an upgraded type of drone to legally fly in the city.

He said that upgrade is an expense he can't afford.

"You need to have a recognized UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) or drone, and the one I have is not on the list," said Auld. "The cheapest one I was looking at, that's on this list, is about $30,000. For the amount of work I do, and others in the city, that will probably put most of (us) out of business."

Auld said the drone he uses now is worth about $2,000. He said the ones that are on the list for advanced users have battery redundancies and can fly on 3 propellers if need be.

Auld said there are now two levels of drone use. Basic drone operation is anything 9 km. outside of the airport, the heli -pad at the hospital, or the Current River float plane base. Advanced use is anything located inside those 9 km. circles. Auld said those three circles cover virtually the entire city of Thunder Bay.

Auld said he's frustrated because he knows some drone users won't comply with the rules.

Auld says he is worried that the new regulations will impact only legal drone users, while those who refuse to comply will carry on without enforcement. (photo: Izabela Pioro)

"It makes it difficult for a guy like me because it is going to put me out of business, " he said. "But for the ones that don't follow the rules it's going to be like as normal. They're still going to be able to go do it."

Auld said he is also disappointed with the new regulations because he doesn't think they have the required enforcement follow through.

"They didn't mention anything about enforcement, other than the fines," said Auld. "And the fines are about the same in terms of the dollar amount.For individuals it's about $1000 for for flying without a certificate, and up to about 15,000 for a corporation. But I am sure you have not heard of any fines being levied here in Thunder Bay."   

But Auld also said he understands the need for more safety measures when it come to drone use.

"Well I think (the new regulations) are good for the aviation industry and it's something that had to be done," he said. "And for the legal drone users it was really cumbersome, all the hoops they had to go through to get up in the air. They are making it easier once you get a certification. But getting that certification is going to be quite quite challenging for many operators."

Auld said the company that makes his drone, called DJI, is also the most popular drone manufacturer in the world.

He said the company has plans to come out with a drone that will comply with the new advanced Canadian federal regulations, but that unit is still expected to be priced between 15 and $20,000.