Mixed reactions to new drone regulations

Some operators are welcoming the new drone regulations — but not everyone is pleased.
New regulations for larger drones come into effect June 1. They don't apply to small, consumer style drones under the weight of 250 grams. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

New regulations on flying commercial drones come into effect Saturday, and while some operators are welcoming the changes, others are "on the fence."

One of the new regulations requires operators of drones over the weight of 250 grams to take a pilot's test to be certified to fly.

Devon Pastorius, owner of Pastorius Media and Windsor Real Estate photography uses drones to take videos and pictures of real estate listings and some videography work.

He said much of the test includes technical questions only aircraft pilots need to know and are irrelevant for his line of work.

"A lot of the questions had nothing to do with drone operations in the slightest," said Pastorius.

On the other hand, Matthew Dumas, the president of Red Bird Media in London, which does commercial and industrial drone photography welcomes the new laws.

"We think that it's really important that there are higher standards for drone operators," said Dumas.

Andy Chevalier, owner/operator of CEW Data Works, a company that specializes in aerial photography and topography for the construction industry, is also glad the changes are coming. 

Chevalier said the new licenses almost eliminate the need to obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate for work in populated areas and near airports.

"It was becoming very cumbersome to get the Special Flight Operations Certificates," said Chevalier, who added it could take weeks to get the certificates. The licence he'll get now will allow him to operate in populated areas.

"At the end of the day it's always just about safety," said Chevalier.

Andy Chevalier of CEW Data Works, holds a commercial drone he uses for aerial topography. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Recently, a pilot with Journey Air, a training agency at Windsor Airport, reported a drone flying in restricted airspace near the airport.

Pastorius doesn't believe the new laws will stop that kind of bad behaviour and policing will be difficult.

University of Windsor assistant professor of law, robotics and society Kristen Thomasen, told CBC News the drone rules don't go far enough to address privacy concerns.

"We also need to think about what drones are being used for, what kind of information might be collected and what kind of impact might they have on people on the ground and that might help also dictate where drones should be flown, by whom and what requirements the operators should maybe be thinking about going through before they operate their drone," said Thomasen.

New requirements

  • All pilots must be certified and all drones registered.
  • All pilots must pass an online exam to get a certificate for basic or advanced operations.
  • Pilots must be at least 14 years old for basic operations and 16 for advanced operations, unless supervised by a person having proper qualifications.


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