Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs), more commonly known as drones, are estimated to become a $100-$260 million industry in Canada by 2020. There has been a continued increase in the number of individuals and companies that are interested in getting into commercial drone operations, but many do not know where to start.
As part of its commitment to emerging technology, Field Law has developed a highly qualified group of lawyers with knowledge and experience in drone law related to both commercial and recreational use. Our team was involved in the first case ever to address the federal drone regulation and can assist you with advancing your business and personal interests to navigate the legal landscape for drone use including contractual, insurance, privacy, and intellectual property issues.
To date, there has been concern with privacy issues and potential liability resulting from the use of drones. The goal of the new drone regulations, published by Transport Canada on January 9, 2019, is to enhance predictability for businesses, improve the security of aviation and ensure our airspace is safe for everyone.
The new regulations, which come into effect on June 1, 2019, distinguish between basic and advanced operations and require drones of a certain size to be registered with Transport Canada and drone pilots to get a drone pilot certificate. The regulations also prohibit reckless or negligent operation of a drone and those who break the rules can face fines up to $25,000 or jail time. The rules apply to drones that weigh between 250 grams and 25 kilograms.
Where we began: Our client was convicted under s. 602.45 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (part of the Aeronautics Act) for flying his drone too close to an airport. A trial he was represented by volunteer law students. We were approached by them to represent the client on the appeal of the conviction. The issue on appeal was whether the trial judge had correctly found that our client had beyond a reasonable doubt, flown a model aircraft in a manner that was or was likely hazardous to aviation safety. The only law that applied to recreational use of a drone at that time.
Our approach: Through the appeal process we used our in-depth industry knowledge and deep understanding of the new regulatory frameworks to assist the Court in understanding the applicable law relating to recreational drone use.
The result: The appeal of our client’s conviction was successful. Within weeks of the decision s. 602.45 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations was amended to no longer apply to drones and the Minister of Transport issued an Interim Order that provide more clarity for recreational drone operators. This prevented other drone users across Canada from facing the same penalty.