DJI: Canada’s Draft Drone Rules A Disappointing Turn of Events

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

While Transport Canada’s actions last week to loosen interim drone restrictions was met with approval, the draft for more of permanent regulations could be even worse than before, according to DJI. The drone manufacturer says that unless challenged by citizens with comments and perhaps even legal actions, Transport Canada’s proposed drone laws would make innovation with UAVs albeit impossible in the Great White North.

While DJI is pleased some operating restrictions from earlier Interim Orders have been eased, the draft rules as written would significantly limit safe and responsible drone use. The rules would also make it harder for Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs to develop new ways to use drones in business, education, agriculture and public safety, leaving Canada to fall behind in realizing the benefits of drones.

The prime concern that DJI has with the proposed drone regulations, is that they not only reverse the more open interim rules that Transport Canada revised as a stop gap measure while hashing out a formal rules proposal, but they make no distinction between recreational and commercial drone operations. “Canadians who simply want to see their homes from above would have to follow the same strict standards as large businesses with fleets of drones,” said DJI in a statement.

A simple selfie would require an insurance policy in Canada.

What are those restrictions? According to DJI’s Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs, Brendan Schulman, drone operators will have to have  $100,000 insurance coverage for any drone weighing her 250 grams (the FAA equivalent of .55 pounds). That means even the proud owner of a DJI Spark will have to try and find coverage in an era where many insurance companies are updating their policies with riders that prohibit coverage for flying drones.

“Strong restrictions placed on drones in built-up areas – essentially all locations where people live – overlook the benefits drones can provide to cities and will result in millions of Canadians not having the opportunity to realize the full potential of this emerging technology.”

Additionally, all drone traffic will have to steer clear of population centers, by placing a 100 foot limit. “(That) would instantly make it illegal for millions of Canadians to fly a small drone in their own backyards,” Schulman says.

Additionally, Transport Canada plans a robust enforcement campaign which would include educating users on their legal responsibilities, but also through warnings and monetary penalties of up to $3,000 CAN for individuals and $25,000 for businesses for those in noncompliance, as well as suspension or cancellation of an authorized Canadian aviation document issued to any wayward drone operator.

The drone regs would also require manufacturers to certify their Drones to standards that haven’t even been established yet, making it extremely burdensome to design and innovate with the next generation of UAVs.

DJI calls on Canadians to submit comments to Transport Canada during the comment and consultation period before the rules are formally adopted.  Comments can be submitted by Oct. 13, 2017 to Transport Canada’s website here or via snail mail at:

Regulatory Affairs, AARBH
Civil Aviation
Safety and Security
Transport Canada
Place de Ville, Tower C
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5
Telephone: 613-993-7284 or 1-800-305-2059
Fax: 613-990-1198

“An ideal regulatory regime would adequately mitigate the risk of injury and property damage while allowing innovators the freedom to experiment and to use drones with minimal burdens or barriers to entry,” said Eric Ebenstein, DJI Head of North America Public Policy. “We look forward to providing feedback to suggest ways that these draft regulations can be turned into a set of rules that protect the public while encouraging innovation.”

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