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Mapping Drones Incidents in Canada

Published December 9, 2018

Drones and planes colliding, shotguns being fired at quadcopters, and hospitalizations from drone crashes.  I don’t mean to be sensational here, but these situations can all be found in the Canadian Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORS). As described on the official Transport Canada website:

Transport Canada collects aviation occurrence information through CADORS. The purpose of the system is to provide initial information on occurrences involving any Canadian-registered aircraft as well as events which occur at Canadian airports, in Canadian sovereign airspace, or international airspace for which Canada has accepted responsibility that includes events involving foreign registered aircraft. 

Since each record has a geographic component (location of reported incident), I decided to create a map of these incidents by querying “UAV” and “drone” using the database query tool.  That query, after some cleanup, returned 786 records that had a date range from November of 2005 up until November 2018. 

After reviewing many of these records, there were definitely a few things that surprised me.  Some of the more head-shaking drone incidents from the database:

  • On October 17, 2017 there was a report out of Quebec that a Beech A100 operated by Sky Jet struck a drone on the nose and the crew declared an emergency but managed to land safely.
  • On September 15, 2017, a crashed DJI Mavic Pro drone was found on the roof of the control tower at Vancouver Harbour.
  • On June 11, 2016 in Quebec City, a drone fell from 50 feet and struck an individual on the head during a color run (Defi 5km en couleurs), with the operators found to be operating without a permit or authorization.  The individual was evacuated by ambulance to the regional hospital.
  • On July 22, 2014 near Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario a drone collided with a parked car, with pieces breaking off of the drone and also causing damage to a college building window.
  • On September 23, 2017, a  WestJet Boeing 737 reported a drone at 15,000 ft (!) while on descent to Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. Police were notified.
  • On June 24, 2017 south of Calgary, a permitted UAV operation was being carried out when an individual on a neighboring property fired a shotgun in an attempt to disable the aircraft.  The shot missed, the pilot landed the aircraft, and operations ceased for the day while the RCMP got involved.

These are just a few of the ridiculous records that can be found in the database.  I was quite surprised at the number of records that mentioned drones flying at altitudes way above anywhere they should legally be, and the sheer number of drone flights in close proximity to airports, which is brutal to put it lightly.  Some of these incidents took place before any of the mainstream communication about drone safety, but you would hope common sense would prevail out there.  

Check out the web map below.  By presenting this data for more people to see, I hope it raises more awareness about the importance of regulation, compliance enforcement and UAV pilot training.  With Transport Canada rolling out new regulations in spring of 2019, one can hope that some of the new measures and processes will help to end some of the amateur circus operators out there.  There are many responsible commercial UAV operators out there that take safety very seriously and have best practices in place, but the others give us a bad reputation.  Here’s to safer skies in 2019.

 

Mike Morellato is the lead author and founder of WorkingWithDrones.com.  He works with drones and their data at Strategic in Campbell River, BC (Canada).  

 

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