It’s not news that planes have to keep on the lookout for birds flying in the air, but with the technology we have nowadays they may not be the only hazard pilots need to watch out for. On October 12, a passenger plane traveling to Quebec City, Canada collided with a small drone. “This is the first time a drone has hit a commercial aircraft in Canada and I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely,” said by Marc Garneau, Minister of Canadian Transport. No arrests had been made following the incident, and being the first incident of its kind for the country, it had prompted a message from the government recapping on drone flight rules.
Carrying eight passengers from the city of Rouyn-Noranda, the plane was 370 miles northwest of Quebec City flying at an altitude of 1,500 feet when the drone came into contact with one of its wings. With growing fears surrounding drone flights, the Canadian government is scheduled to put out an updated set of guidelines limiting drone usage around animals, people and buildings (most importantly airports).
Besides the fact that this was a first time incident for Canada, it is not a first for the United States. Though use of unmanned aerial vehicles (also known as UAVs or drones) has been increasing dramatically, the practice has not been without risks. With incidents including a drone landing in a Yellowstone hot spring, injuries to bystanders, and crashes near the White House, these accidents are certainly not some of the last for this type of equipment. The domestic usage of drones as toys or for camera shots has been ever growing since 2014 and is nowhere near slowing down.
Transportation advisors in multiple countries have been trying to come up with rules to avoid any potential disasters. “If a drone were to hit the window of a cockpit and incapacitate the pilot, or were to damage in anyway an engine, this could have catastrophic results”, said Garneau while at a news conference about the issue. Earlier this year, Canada had announced safety measures, making it illegal to fly recreational drones within 3.5 miles of an airport, as well as limiting the height a drone can fly to around 300 feet. Punishment for breaking these regulations include a fine to as much as 25,000 Canadian dollars ($20,000 U.S) and/or a sentence in prison. According Garneau, the regulations apply to drones of any size and for any use.
With the rules becoming more refined for our Canadian neighbors, the United States has been continuously taking action in securing domestic drone usage guidelines as well. From Operational Limitations to Aircraft Requirements, it’s all enforced and accounted for. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had also condemned the unauthorized use of drones near airports. So if you or anyone you know is planning on purchasing or flying a drone, it would be a good idea to become familiar with the laws and to especially not forget about good old common sense. Remember, if flying close to an airport or any off-limits area, there will very well be serious consequences as a result.