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Oshawa skies may be free of drones

New federal rules effectively make city a no-go zone for drones

Under new federal regulations, people will not be able to fly recreational drones within nine kilometres of anywhere that aircraft take off or land. Due to the Oshawa Executive Airport and the Port Perry/Hoskin Aerodrome, much of Oshawa is a drone-free zone.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa’s drone enthusiasts may have to travel to the northern reaches of the city or to another municipality all together if they want to keep flying.

That’s thanks to new rules on the flying machines introduced by Transportation Canada. Under the new rules, recreational flyers using a drone over 250 grams can be hit with a fine of up to $3,000 if they are caught flying within nine kilometres of anywhere planes take off or land.

Nine kilometres north of the Oshawa Executive Airport comes to just north of the Howden Road. Going south, the no-drone zone would reach into Lake Ontario. The nine-kilometre exclusion area would also reach into Whitby to the west and Clarington to the east.

The north end of the city is also largely covered as a result of the Port Perry/Hoskin Aerodrome.

Stephen Wilcox, the airport’s manager, says that the new rules are welcomed for those at the airport.

“Safety is paramount in aviation, and the rules enhance safety so I absolutely support the strategy and the new regulations,” he tells The Oshawa Express.

Wilcox says the airport, as well as the planes that use it, have had issues with drones in the past.

“Last year, we picked up a drone right off the middle of the runway on the departure end of the active runway. Fortunately, an aircraft didn’t hit it while it was landing, but it actually landed right in the middle of the runway,” he says.

“It’s not that we think somebody flew it in there and landed it – it was a runaway drone. It just happened to run out of battery life at that point and landed on the runway. We’ve also had reports from the pilots of some near misses. We had one up by Port Perry with a drone up at 3,000 feet. Again, it’s not likely someone flying it, it’s just run away.”

Wilcox says that the problems faced by pilots from drones typically don’t come from responsible users of the small aircraft.

“There’s really two concerns – one is someone may not realize that the airport is here or that they’re operating in proximity to the airport,” he says.

“But the bigger issue, quite honestly, is that there’s no standards for the design of the technology, and there’s no processes or training. And when you crank up one of these little drones and it flies away, where’s it flying to and what’s it interfering with?”

According to the new federal rules, fines of up to $3,000 also apply to those flying drones recreationally more than 90 metres off the ground, within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles, vessels, animals or people, more than 500 metres away from you, at night, in clouds or somewhere you can’t see, without your name and contact information written on the drone or over forest fires and other emergency situations.

“I take very seriously the increased risk to aviation safety and to people on the ground caused by drones,” states Marc Garneau, the federal transport minister, in a news release announcing the new rules.

“That is why I am proceeding with this measure which takes effect immediately—to enhance the safety of aviation and the public while we work to bring into force permanent regulations.”