That’s a wrap: Another great Aerial Evolution Association of Canada Conference

That’s a wrap: Another great Aerial Evolution Association of Canada Conference

By Scott Simmie

 

What a great show.

The Aerial Evolution Association of Canada (formerly Unmanned Systems Canada – Systèmes Télécommandés Canada) held its annual conference and trade exhibition November 7-10 in Ottawa. The event had an excellent turnout, along with the usual selection of high-quality learning sessions.

There was plenty of discussion around the coming world of Advanced Air Mobility, where new and transformative aircraft (many of which are innovative new autonomous drone designs with detect-and-avoid features) will routinely deliver heavy cargo and even passengers over dense urban centres and to regional communities not currently served by traditional aircraft.

Another timely topic was the increasing use of drones in the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the latest developments in Counter-UAS technologies (including both detection and mitigation). There was even a live demonstration of a new kinetic C-UAS drone that uses a net to disable and capture a rogue RPAS.

Reps from Transport Canada and NAV Canada were on hand to discuss proposed changes on the regulatory landscape and – always an important part of these gatherings – hear questions and concerns directly from the industry. These open exchanges have long been a hallmark of the annual event.

AEAC Plenary

FIRST NATIONS

 

There was a notable emphasis this year on Indigenous use of drones and other technologies, including a powerful session about detecting unmarked burial sites on the grounds of former residential schools. The concept of data sovereignty – who owns data captured on unceded territories – was also discussed. There was even a presentation on how drones have helped to capture important First Nations cultural events. Plus, of course, the employment and opportunities that RPAS education and initiatives are creating for Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities.

Below, one of the Indigenous panels, moderated by Kristin Kozuback (C)

DRONES AND LAND MINES

 

SAIT‘s Shahab Moeini talked about a program using UAS to detect land mines using AI, machine vision and sensor fusion. Many previous and current efforts have used magnetometers, but these metal-detecting sensors are neither effective nor appropriate given that many land mines are made of plastics and other non-metallic materials. Machine Learning is being used to train drones to recognise the many, many, different types of land mines – even if only a portion of the device is visible above ground.

“Land mines,” said Moeini, “are the nastiest creation of mankind.”

Below: Shahab Moeini, who runs SAIT’S Centre for Innovation and Research in Unmanned Systems (CIRUS)

SPEXI

 

Among the many excellent and innovative presentations, one by Spexi Geospatial caught our attention. The Vancouver-based company has built software that allows pilots of micro-drones to automatically fly and capture hexagonal-shaped areas the company calls “Spexigons.” Each Spexigon covers 22 acres and when an adjacent Spexigon is flown the data and imagery are seamlessly connected. With enough Spexigons captured, you’ve got a high-resolution version of Google Earth – and a ton of use-cases for the data.

The Spexi software carries out the flights automatically using DJI sub-250g drones, flying standardized capture missions to produce imagery at scale. The data is uploaded to the cloud where it’s stitched together to form highly detailed images of very large areas with a resolution of 3cm/pixel. (A satellite, by contrast, captures at 30cm/pixel while a standard airplane generally captures at 10cm/pixel.)

During one recent mission, “over 10,000 acres of imagery was captured in three days,” explained Spexi COO Alec Wilson.

“We’ve made it super simple to get images in and out at scale… And we’re super-excited to be able to start building bigger and better platforms for the drone industry.”

Below: Spexi’s Alec Wilson explains how the system works…

Alec Wilson Spexi

WOMEN IN DRONES

 

This year’s conference saw an increased emphasis on Women in Drones.

Though this has been on the agenda at past events, the 2023 event had somehow a different feel: The recognition that women are not only increasingly entering and shaping this male-dominated sector, but that many are high-level subject matter experts making significant contributions.

While progress has been made, there’s still work to do on the equity front. And there was a strong sense the AEAC is committed to achieving that.

Below: The close of the Women in Drones breakfast

AEAC Women in Drones Breakfast

RECOGNITION

 

One of the most memorable parts of any Aerial Evolution Association of Canada conference is the awards ceremony. Individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the RPAS industry are nominated, voted for by their peers, and selected for recognition. Recipients range from student engineers (the RPAS CTOs of tomorrow) through to service providers, manufacturers – and even government agencies.

Those honoured at this year’s conference include:

  • Dr. Frederique Pivot: Pip Rudkin Individual Achievement Award
  • Jacob Taylor: 2023 Indigenous Innovation Award
  • National Research Council of Canada Aerospace Research Centre: 2023 Organizational Achievement Award
  • Bryan Kikuta, Toronto Metropolitan University: 2023 Mark Cuss Memorial Scholarship
  • Ana Pereira, University of Victoria: Best Student Oral Presentation Award (judged)
  • Aman Basawanal, Carleton University: Best Student Technical Paper Award (judged)

Below: The National Research Council Team receives its award

WAIT, THERE’S MORE

 

There was one more award recipient to whom we’d like to give a special shout-out. It’s Katelin (Kate) Klassen, who received the 2023 Aerial Evolution Ellevatus Award “for her outstanding dedication in uplifting, empowering, and inspiring women in the Canadian RPAS sector.”

Kate is truly a pioneer in this field. A multi-rated private pilot and flight instructor with traditional aircraft, Kate has been a significant force in the drone field for years. She’s an educator (her online courses have trained more than 10,000 pilots), a lobbyist (she’s taken part in multiple consultations with regulators – including being co-chair of the CanaDAC Drone Advisory Committee), and a true advocate for RPAS education. Her knowledge of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) is legendary – and she has inspired and encouraged countless women (and men) in this industry.

Plus, she’s truly an all-round awesome human being – always willing to share her time and expertise. Congratulations, Kate – and all the other winners!

Kate (C) looking justifiably happy…

Kate Ellevatus

ALSO WORTH NOTING (AND CELEBRATING)

 

Though they didn’t receive any awards, three key members of the Association certainly merit public recognition for their contributions. Jordan Cicoria (CEO of Aerium Analytics) did an outstanding job as Conference Chair. In fact, he’s overseen the last two in-person conferences, while also taking the helm of the virtual gathering during the peak of the pandemic. That’s a *lot* of work, and Jordan has carried out these tasks both professionally and modestly while juggling a plethora of moving parts.

A lot of work on the conference – and elsewhere – came from AEAC Executive Director Declan Sweeney. Declan worked hard behind the scenes (and on countless calls) with sponsors, exhibitors, membership drives – you name it. He’s also deeply involved in the annual student competition. Declan does it all with professionalism, and a great sense of humour.

Equally deserving of recognition is AEAC Chair of the Board Michael Cohen (also the CEO of Qii.AI).

Michael has been serving the Association well, and was key in the transition and rebranding from Unmanned Systems Canada / Systèmes Télécommandés Canada to the Aerial Evolution Association of Canada. This was far more than a name change, but an organizational shift to reflect the coming era of Advanced Air Mobility. He’s been instrumental in the Association’s push toward greater Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – which was reflected in the conference agenda.

The Association also benefits greatly from Michael’s extensive knowledge and background; he’s a former commercial jet pilot – a distinct advantage when discussing the Big Picture (and the minutia) with regulators.

Thank you, all.

Below: Jordan Cicoria (L) with Declan Sweeney, followed by Michael Cohen (R) with Transport Canada’s Ryan Coates

Jordan Declan
Michael Cohen Ryan Coates

INDRO’S TAKE

 

As always, we were pleased to participate at the annual Aerial Evolution Association of Canada conference. In addition to the sessions, the networking and the trade exhibit – it’s of tremendous value to have the industry and the regulators together for collaborative discussions. There’s been tremendous progress in this sector over the past decade, and much of that is due to regulators truly working with the industry to safely advance RPAS use in Canadian airspace, including BVLOS flight and other more complex operations. Technology that was seen almost as a threat in the early days is now being accepted as a useful – and critical – adjunct to the overall world of aviation.

InDro Robotics staff appeared on multiple panels; CEO and AEAC Board Member Philip Reece, pictured below, took part in the Counter-UAS panel and a live demo of kinetic C-UAS drone at Area X.O‘s Drone and Advanced Robotics Training and Testing (DARTT) facility. (That’s Philip below.)

Philip Reece

BUT…

 

We’d be lying if we didn’t tell you that a true highlight for us was seeing Kate Klassen receive the Ellevatus Award.

“One might easily conclude we’re happy simply because Kate is a flight instructor and regulatory expert with InDro Robotics,” says CEO Philip Reece. “But that’s really just a sliver of the truth. Kate’s contributions over the years have been plentiful, significant, and lasting. We’d be applauding this recognition just as loudly even if she didn’t work with InDro.”

We are, however, very happy – and fortunate – that she does.

 

YOW Drone incident recounted in WINGS magazine

YOW Drone incident recounted in WINGS magazine

By Scott Simmie

 

If you follow the news from Indro Robotics regularly, you’re likely aware we’re the key technology provider for the YOW Drone Detection Pilot Project.

For several years, we’ve been involved in detecting drones flying in proximity to the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. The data is collated into regular reports and shared with partners including Transport Canada, NAV Canada and the RCMP. It has also proven invaluable in assisting YOW with developing protocols for drone incursions and even apprehension of individuals violating RPAS airspace rules.

Among the project highlights we’ve covered in the past:

These stories have been picked up by multiple news outlets in the past, including the Ottawa Citizen, CBC  News, sUASNEWS, DroneDJ – and many more. In fact, here’s one those CBC pieces, covering the drone detection used during President Joe Biden’s visit:

WINGS YOW

PLAY-BY-PLAY

 

The data obtained during that December 2022 incursion is highly detailed. In fact, it offers a moment-by-moment description of how the flights went down (and up), along with how YOW authorities responded to the event. You can find the WINGS article online here, but we’ve also pasted it below for your convenience.

Apologies for the split headline, but this was a double-truck page.

WINGS YOW INCURSION ONE
WINGS YOW INCURSION TWO

INDRO’S TAKE

 

We’re grateful to WINGS Magazine Editor Jon Robinson for amplifying our YOW drone incursion story. The more that incidents like these are publicised, it’s reasonable to assume that fewer will occur as people learn more about the regulations and penalties.

It’s also clear, as was demonstrated at the 2023 Aerial Evolution Association of Canada conference, that drone mitigation technology continues to improve. During the event, there was a demonstration of a drone that can track down and disable a rogue RPAS with the kinetic firing of a net. (Radio Frequency jamming is not permitted under Industry Canada rules except in extraordinary circumstances.)

“We’re pleased to see that this story is still making the rounds, and hopefully educating drone operators who may be unfamiliar with the rules and penalties,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece.  

“But we’re even more pleased to see that incidents such as these are relatively rare. The YOW Drone Detection Pilot Project has captured very valuable data over the years – and continues to do so.”

Interested in drone detection and mitigation solutions for your airport, stadium or other sensitive asset? InDro subsidiary Bravo Zulu has multiple options and can be contacted here

DON DRONES ON ABOUT TRANSPORT CANADA CHARGES IN YOW INCIDENT

DON DRONES ON ABOUT TRANSPORT CANADA CHARGES IN YOW INCIDENT

By Scott Simmie

 

If you’re a regular reader (and we certainly hope you are), you may recall we recently broke the story about a plethora of fines levied by Transport Canada following two illegal drone flights at the Ottawa International Airport (YOW).

Those flights were detected by the YOW Drone Detection Pilot Program and Indro Robotics is the core technology provider for that platform. Both flights took place December 20 of 2022 and violated numerous sections of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs).

The drone was a DJI Air 2S and police were directed to the pilot’s location by airport authorities. He was caught while actively flying and ordered to bring the drone down.

Both flights posed a risk. The first took place while a helicopter was landing; the second while a Jazz Q-400 passenger aircraft was coming in. Both flights – in addition to violating other sections of CARs – were well above the standard altitude limit of 400′ AGL.

Our story quickly gained attention in Canada’s RPAS world and piqued the interest of Don Joyce. He’s the person behind DonDronesOn, a YouTube channel with informative information for drone pilots.

Below: A look at the flight paths that were picked up by the YOW Drone Detection Pilot Program

 

YOW drone detection

CAUTIONARY TALE

 

Joyce sees this incident – as do many – as a cautionary tale. The potential for a conflict with crewed aircraft was very real. The drone was in the air as two different aircraft landed nearby.

“This is not an example of government overreach,” he says in a video you’ll see shortly. “Rather, a good example of technology and process applied to keep us safe from fools and bad actors.”

Joyce also rightly points out that drone detection systems are becoming more commonplace at airports and other sensitive facilities. Not knowing the rules is no excuse for those found caught breaking them.

“Drone detection systems are in use in Canada around sensitive locations like airports. They work. And they’re only going to get better and more widely deployed. This stuff is picking up both the electronic and acoustic signatures of our drones today.

“So if you think you’re flying with no one watching, think again.”

Joyce’s video triggered a lot of comments. Most were pleased to see the pilot was charged in this case. One commenter noted that – despite this incident – the number of rogue flights that blatantly violate CARs appears to have gone down over the years. (If you’ve been in this field for a while, you’ll recall crazy YouTube videos of blatant violations near airports, over crowds, etc.)

“I can say that in my experience over the past 10 years, there are less and less ‘idiots’ flying drones in Canada as many are indeed aware of TC regs and rules,” he wrote.

“And although all the TC regs/rules are not always followed, the ‘idiot’ flights placing other’s safety in question are extremely low today compared to five to ten years ago.”

Joyce has filed an Access to Information request to get the full file from Transport Canada. For now, he does a great job of explaining what happened – and how the pilot likely changed locations to evade DJI’s GeoFencing restrictions.

CONSEQUENCES

 

As we originally reported, the pilot was fined $3021 for violating seven sections of the CARs – including not having a Transport Canada RPAS Certificate. And that got us thinking: What other fines has Transport Canada levied recently in connection with violations of Part IX of CARs – the regulations governing Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems?

Turns out, there have been a few. We take a look here at publicly available Transport Canada records for violations occurring in 2022. TC takes its time with these investigations; roughly a year transpired between most violations and the eventual fines.

Date of Violation: 2022/07/30 Location: Pacific Region

Though it took until June of 2023 for the offender to be served, the pilot was fined for violating three sections of CARs. According to Transport Canada: “A person operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) when it was not registered and in Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace without authorization. A person also operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) at a special aviation event or at an advertised event without a special flight operations certificate — RPAS.”

Given that this occurred in the Pacific Region, we believe this may have occurred at the Fort St. John International Air Show (which was underway at that time). The penalty assessed was $1400.

Date of Violation: 2022/05/29 Location: Quebec Region

Once again, three sections of CARs were violated. Says TC: “A person operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) when it was not registered, and at a distance of less than 100 feet from another person measured horizontally. A person also operated an RPAS when that person was not the holder of a pilot certificate – advanced operations.”

The fine was served in May of 2023.

Date of Violation: 2022/06/17 Location: Quebec Region

Like the Pacific Region incident, this one also appears to have occurred at an airshow or special event. And there were a couple of interesting violations, including not having a Special Flight Operations Certificate and not having a copy of the RPAS owner’s manual available.

According to Transport Canada: “A person failed to operate a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) in visual line-of-sight at all times during flight, and in controlled airspace. A person conducted the take-off or launch of a remotely piloted aircraft for which the manufacturer has provided a remotely piloted aircraft system operating manual without the manual immediately available to crew members at their duty stations. A person also operated an RPAS when that person was not the holder of a pilot certificate – advanced operations, and an RPAS having a maximum take-off weight of 250 g or more at a special aviation event or at an advertised event without a special flight operations certificate — RPAS.”

There were five CARs violations and a fine of $1500

Date of violation: 2022/06/19 Location: Quebec Region

This also took place at either an airshow or other special event – and these infractions set the pilot back by $900. “A person operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) in controlled airspace,” states Transport Canada.

“A person also operated an RPAS when that person was not the holder of a pilot certificate – advanced operations, and an RPAS having a maximum take-off weight of 250g or more at a special aviation event or at an advertised event without a special flight operations certificate — RPAS.”

Date of violation: 2022/06/19 Location: Quebec Region

This incident involved violations of five sections of CARs. A fine of $1500 was levied in May of this year.

Here’s Transport Canada’s description of the offenses: “A person operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) without a registration number clearly visible on the remotely piloted aircraft, in controlled airspace, and failed to operate it in visual line-of-sight at all times during flight. A person also operated an RPAS when that person was not the holder of a pilot certificate – advanced operations, and an RPAS having a maximum take-off weight of 250 g or more at a special aviation event or at an advertised event without a special flight operations certificate — RPAS.”

Below: The crumpled cowling of a Cessna. The aircraft collided with a drone operated by York Regional Police drone near Buttonville Airport on August 10, 2021. The pilot was later fined by TC. You can read our coverage of the incident here.

Cessna York Police Buttonville

Date of Violation: 2022/05/01 Location: Quebec Region

This incident involved seven infractions and a fine of $2100. Interestingly, this case involves the use of a First Person View device – where the pilot was wearing goggles and did not have a visual observer monitoring the drone directly (among other things).

Again, here’s the Transport Canada description: “A person operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) when it was not registered, in controlled airspace, and at altitude greater than 400’ AGL without a special flight operations certificate — RPAS.

“A person also conducted the take-off or launch of a remotely piloted aircraft for which the manufacturer has provided a RPAS operating manual without the manual immediately available to crew members at their duty stations.

“A person operated a RPAS using a first-person view device without, at all times during flight, a visual observer performing the detect and avoid functions with respect to conflicting aircraft or other hazards beyond the field of view displayed on the device. A person also operated a RPAS at a special aviation event or at an advertised event without a special flight operations certificate — RPAS, and when that person was not the holder of a pilot certificate – advanced operations.”

Date of Violation: 2022/03/05 Location: Quebec Region

This one’s intriguing, as it involves an “unauthorized payload.” What that payload was is a bit of a mystery, as TC tell us that. However, this was part of a very pricy day: The eventual fine for violating five sections of CARs was $3950.

“A person operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) when it was not registered, in Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace without authorization and failed to immediately cease operation when the safety of persons was endangered,” states the summary.

“A person also operated a RPAS while transporting an unauthorized payload and when the person was not the holder of a proper pilot certificate – small remotely piloted aircraft (VLOS).”

Date of Violation: 2022/03/16 Location: Quebec Region

Though details are scarce, we can read between the lines on this $1300 case and infer that someone flew their drone while First Responders or Law Enforcement were at an emergency scene. Costly mistake, along with not registering the drone.

“A person operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) when it was not registered and over or within the security perimeter established by a public authority in response to an emergency. A person also operated a RPAS when the person was not the holder of a proper pilot certificate – small remotely piloted aircraft (VLOS).”

Date of Violation: 2022/03/16 Location: Quebec Region

Five CARs violations; $3780. Ka-ching.

“A person operated a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) when it was not registered, in Class F Special Use Restricted Airspace without authorization and failed to operate it in visual line-of-sight at all times during flight. A person also operated a RPAS while transporting an unauthorized payload and when the person was not the holder of a proper pilot certificate – small remotely piloted aircraft (VLOS).”

 

OBSERVATIONS

 

As you perhaps noticed, the vast majority – eight of nine reported cases – occurred in Quebec. So one might immediately assume that pilots in that province are more reckless.

But we can’t say that from the data. Perhaps TC inspectors are more inclined to levy fines in that province, or there are more inspectors there. Maybe people are more inclined in Quebec to report drone violations to authorities. We really can’t say.

We did, however, find it interesting to note that some pilots were fined for violations such as not having a drone manual available on-site or wearing FPV goggles without a constant visual observer. It’s a good reminder that the regs are the regs – and they all need to be followed.

Below: Image shows the take-off points of the two flights detected by the YOW Drone Detection Pilot Project

YOW drone detection

INDRO’S TAKE

 

InDro Robotics was one of the first companies to offer hands-on drone training in Canada. We have trained police, firefighters, other First Responders – and more. We are also proud to have one of Canada’s leading online drone instructors, Kate Klassen, on staff.

Kate has trained more than 10,000 drone pilots in Canada. Her website, FLYY, offers everything to get pilots started – or take them to the next level for specialized training. (She is also a pilot and certified trainer for traditional crewed aircraft.)

“Regulations are there for a reason – to avoid conflict with crewed aircraft and to protect people and property on the ground,” says InDro CEO Philip Reece (who is also a private pilot).

“We’re pleased to have played a role in detecting these flights at YOW, and hope the fines levied do indeed send a message: Knowing and following the regulations is the right thing to do – and the best thing for this emerging industry.”

We should also mention that InDro is now offering basic and high-level drone training and evaluation in a massive netted enclosure at DARTT – the newly opened NIST-compliant facility for Drone and Advanced Robot Testing and Training at Area X.O in Ottawa. If you’re interested, you can contact us here.

You can find Transport Canada’s list of offences here. And we do recommend you check out Klassen’s FLYY.

Drone pilot fined $3,021 for drone incursion at YOW

Drone pilot fined $3,021 for drone incursion at YOW

By Scott Simmie

 

A drone pilot has been hit with fines totalling more than $3,000 for two unauthorised and potentially dangerous flights at YOW – the Ottawa International Airport.

The flights took place in December of 2022 and involved the drone flying in close proximity to active runways while aircraft were landing. The flights were detected – and the pilot located – by the YOW Drone Detection Pilot Project. InDro Robotics supplies the core technology for that system, which has been in operation some 2-1/2 years.

In fact, the system allowed police to be directed to the location of the pilot while he was flying the drone from inside his car at a hotel parking lot.

“The individual was quite surprised that a police cruiser pulled up – and expressed ignorance about flying in the vicinity of the airport,” says Michael Beaudette, Vice President of Security, Emergency Management and Customer Transportation with the Ottawa International Airport Authority.

“He said he wasn’t aware he couldn’t fly there.”

He was about to be educated.

Below: Part of the YOW drone detection system, which uses multiple technologies

Ottawa Drone Detection

INTRUSION

 

The system at YOW is capable of detecting the location of active DJI drones up to 40 kilometres away. It is also designed to pick up on other brands of commercial drones flying at closer proximity to the airport by identifying their unique radio frequency signatures.

On December 20, the system generated an alert. Someone was flying a DJI Air 2S drone, which weighs 595 grams, adjacent to the airport.

Flight one: The flight began at 10:07 AM and the drone and pilot were detected at the parking lot of the World Fuel Services building. The drone remained at ground level for five minutes; at 10:12 the operator and drone were detected near the hotel immediately adjacent to the airport – a likely indicator the pilot was in a vehicle and on the move. The drone began increasing in altitude, reaching a height of 873′ – nearly 500′ above the altitude allowed by Transport Canada in areas where drones are permitted. The flight lasted nearly 17 minutes, during which a helicopter arrived at the airport.

Our Airport Operations Coordination Centre (AOCC) quickly checked to see if there had been any approvals granted for drone activity in the immediate vicinity of the airport and confirmed that there were none,” explains Beaudette. “They then notified the Airport Section of the Ottawa Police Service of the detection, who were then dispatched to the general area where the drone had been active. However, by that time the flight had been terminated.”

Flight two: The pilot was detected in the parking lot of the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Ottawa Airport. This flight began at 11:35, climbing initially to an altitude of 200′ before increasing to 507′ Above Ground Level. Lasting 6.85 minutes, the drone landed at 11:41. While that drone was in the air, a Jazz Q-400 landed on Runway 25 at 11:36.

 

“When we received an alert of the second flight, we were able to track the drone flight in real time and pinpoint the exact location of the pilot,” adds Beaudette. “The Ottawa Police Service cruiser approached the pilot as he was sitting in his car piloting the drone and ordered him to land it immediately.”

It’s no surprise these flights were of great concern to authorities at the airport.

Both flights took place without prior notification to, or approval by, NAV Canada,” says Beaudette. “The drone was operating within 350 meters of an active runway and during the first flight, the drone was also operating in very close proximity to a helicopter that was manoeuvering in the area.”

The image below, via Google Earth, shows where the system detected the pilot. During the second flight, police located the pilot mid-flight and ordered him to bring the drone to the ground.
YOW drone detection

KNOW THE REGS

 

As the saying goes, “Ignorance is no excuse for the law.” In other words, being unaware of regulations provides zero legal cover. Police took the pilot’s information, which was passed along to Transport Canada.

That’s because it’s TC, not local law enforcement (with the exception of local bylaw infractions), responsible for enforcing rules that govern drones. And in Canada, those rules are found in Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARS), Part IX. (If you’re a drone pilot and haven’t read these yet, we highly recommend you do.)

THE PENALTIES

The pilot violated multiple sections of CARS. And each of those comes with a financial penalty. Here are the sections violated, and the fines assessed:

  • CAR 900.06 – No person shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system in such a reckless or negligent manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger aviation safety or the safety of any person. (Penalty assessed: $370.50)
  • CAR 901.02 No person shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system unless the remotely piloted aircraft is registered in accordance with this Division. (Penalty assessed: $370.50)
  • CAR 901.14(1) Subject to subsection 901.71(1), no pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft in controlled airspace(Penalty assessed: $456.00)
  • CAR 901.25(1) Subject to subsection (2), no pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft at an altitude greater than (a) 400 feet (122 m) AGL; or (b) 100 feet (30 m) above any building or structure, if the aircraft is being operated at a distance of less than 200 feet (61 m), measured horizontally, from the building or structure. (Penalty assessed: $456.00)
  • CAR 901.27 No pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system unless, before commencing operations, they determine that the site for take-off, launch, landing or recovery is suitable for the proposed operation by conducting a site survey that takes into account the following factors:

      (a) the boundaries of the area of operation;

      (b) the type of airspace and the applicable regulatory requirements;

      (c) the altitudes and routes to be used on the approach to and departure from the area of operation;

      (d) the proximity of manned aircraft operations;

      (e) the proximity of aerodromes, airports and heliports;

      (f) the location and height of obstacles, including wires, masts, buildings, cell phone towers and wind turbines;

      (g) the predominant weather and environmental conditions for the area of operation; and

      (h) the horizontal distances from persons not involved in the operation.  (Penalty assessed: $456.00)

    • CAR 901.47(2) Subject to section 901.73, no pilot shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft at a distance of less than

        (a) three nautical miles from the centre of an airport; and

        (b) one nautical mile from the centre of a heliport.  (Penalty assessed: $456.00)

      • CAR 901.54(1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall operate a remotely piloted aircraft system under this Division unless the person

          (a) is at least 14 years of age; and

          (b) holds either

          (i) a pilot certificate — small remotely piloted aircraft (VLOS) — basic operations issued under section 901.55; or

          (ii) a pilot certificate — small remotely piloted aircraft (VLOS) — advanced operations issued under section 901.64.  (Penalty assessed: $456.00)

        Add that all up? It comes to $3021.00. Those are pretty significant consequences for the pilot.

        Below: The blue and red lines indicate the drone’s path; you can see at the top right the maximum altitude was more nearly 900′ AGL, and the drone was at that height for roughly a third of its time in the air.

        YOW drone detection

        A CAUTIONARY TALE

         

        YOW was pleased to see that Transport Canada took this incident seriously. And Michael Beaudette hopes this incident can be used to raise awareness.

        “Firstly, to remind drone operators that Transport Canada has regulations regarding drones operating near airports and aerodromes to ensure the safety of the public both in the air and on the ground,” he says. “Secondly, that individuals who are not aware of, or do not respect these regulations can be detected and held accountable, as in this case, subjected to fines that could be in the thousands of dollars.”

        Of course, these flights would likely have gone undetected were it not for YOW’s Drone Detection Pilot Project. This ongoing project, you may be aware, recorded multiple illegal flights during the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests in Ottawa, and was put to use during US President Joe Biden’s 2023 state visit.

        “It has opened our eyes as to how many drones are active in the National Capital Region, particularly, in and around our approach paths of our runways and in the immediate vicinity of the airport itself,” says Beaudette.

        “It has also led to collaborative efforts between Transport Canada, NAV Canada and multiple Class 1 airports to become better aware of this issue and to develop contingencies to respond to incidents such as the one we experienced in Dec 2022.”

        Below: Data showed the drone in the air as a crewed aircraft came in to land:

        INDRO’S TAKE

         

        InDro Robotics, like other Canadian professional operators, has a healthy respect for the CARS regulations. They are there for a reason, and not following the regs can lead to serious consequences. In fact, we wrote at length about a collision between an York Regional Police drone and a Cessna at the Buttonville Airport.

        “There can be no question that drones flying near active runways poses a significant – and completely avoidable – threat,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece, who is also a licensed private pilot.

        “The regulations are there for a reason: To protect the safety of crewed aircraft, as well as people and property on the ground. InDro is proud to be the core technology partner of the YOW Drone Detection Pilot Project – and this incident is a perfect reason why.”

        Interested in a drone detection system? InDro would be happy to discuss your needs and offer our expertise. Contact us here.

        CBC HIGHLIGHTS YOW DRONE DETECTION SYSTEM

        CBC HIGHLIGHTS YOW DRONE DETECTION SYSTEM

        By Scott Simmie

         

        If you follow InDro Robotics, you’ll likely be aware that we were a co-founder and core technology partner of the YOW Drone Detection Pilot Project.

        The system has been operating since the fall of 2020, and detects drone intrusions not only at the Ottawa International Airport, but as far as 40 kilometres away in the National Capital Region. Data from the project helps to inform airport protocols and is shared on a regular basis with Transport Canada and law enforcement.

        Back during the “Freedom Convoy” protests in downtown Ottawa, the system got onto the mainstream radar after we published this story, which outlined the high number of unauthorised drone flights taking place in downtown Ottawa. The Ottawa Citizen covered that story here and it was also a cover story for WINGS Magazine.

        Now, the system is back in the news for a different reason: The recent visit of US President Joe Biden to Ottawa.

        President Biden

        AIR FORCE ONE

         

        Prior to the actual visit, advance teams from the Secret Service and Air Force One wanted to check out security and logistics at the Ottawa International Airport. And one of the first questions? Whether YOW had a drone detection system.

        The answer, as you know, is Yes. We interviewed Michael Baudette, YOW’s VP of Security, Emergency Management and Customer Transportation. The resulting post garnered a lot of attention, including a lengthy interview by CBC Ottawa.

        To view the segment on the Drone Detection Pilot project, check out the video below.

        Ottawa International Airport, InDro, provide drone detection during Biden visit

        Ottawa International Airport, InDro, provide drone detection during Biden visit

        By Scott Simmie

         

        A drone detection system described as “probably the best at any airport in the country” played a role in ensuring the safety of Air Force One during Joe Biden’s first visit as US President to Canada.

        InDro Robotics is one of the key technology partners, supplying drone detection hardware and software for the Ottawa International Airport (YOW) Drone Detection Pilot Project. It detects drone flights both near YOW and much further afield.

        In advance of President Biden’s visit, The US Secret Service, as well as an advance team from Air Force One, visited YOW as part of advance preparations.

        The teams wanted to be briefed on airport security, including security measures for the skies and the airport grounds. That included learning about the capabilities of YOW’s Drone Detection Pilot Project – which has been accurately detecting drones at the airport and beyond for years. The program has gained significant media attention – including a cover story for WINGS magazine in 2022:

        Drone detection

        DRONE DETECTION

         

        When the Secret Service and those involved with Air Force One visited YOW on an advance reconnaissance trip, one of the first questions asked was about drones.

        “They asked do we have a drone detection capability – and we were quite proud to tell them that we have probably the best at any airport in the country,” says Michael Beaudette, VP of Security, Emergency Management and Customer Transportation at YOW.

        “It provides us with situational awareness not only of the immediate area, but throughout the National Capital Region up to almost 40 kilometres.”

        Certain areas of Ottawa’s downtown core are designated restricted airspace because of the House of Commons, Embassies and other sensitive locations.

        “During his (Biden’s) visit we paid particular attention to anything flying near the Ottawa airport or downtown,” says Beaudette. “Law enforcement are aware of the capabilities we have. It’s a good partnership and we were happy to be able to give something back to the police and intelligence services.”

         

        THE INDRO CONNECTION

        InDro provides core technology for the drone detection system. Other technology partners include Accipiter Radar, Aerial Armor and Skycope – a Canadian firm whose tech includes a database of unique RF signatures emitted by multiple brands of drones. NAV Canada is part of the project, and Transport Canada is kept in the loop on the data generated by the operation.

        The effectiveness of the system was proven during the massive convoy protest in downtown Ottawa early in 2022. It detected multiple flights of drones in restricted airspace where UAVs are not permitted to fly. Those detections were covered by the Ottawa Citizen.

        Below: Some of the data captured during the 2022 convoy protest in Ottawa. A wealth of data on illegal drone flights was captured:

        Drone Detection

        ONGOING DETECTION

         

        The system runs 24/7, and is capable of triggering an alert whenever a drone intrusion is detected. In mid-March, 2023, a week prior to the US President’s visit, the system indicated an attempted drone intrusion on airport property.

        “The alarms went off and they were tracking it – but because of the geofence around the airport, the pilot couldn’t get control of the drone and put it back down again and departed airport property,” says Beaudette.

        “That one’s in our investigations right now. Anything that happens a week out from the visit we look at it very closely. Is it someone doing a rehearsal to detect weak points? Is it a plane enthusiast having a look? Someone who bought a new drone at Costco and decided to try it out? While it’s a little more challenging because the individual left, we did get a license plate and we’re now just connecting the dots.”

         

        A SIGNIFICANT INTRUSION

         

        That’s not the only recent intrusion. In December of 2022, there was a much more serious incident.

        A pilot popped up a drone directly in the vicinity of YOW runways, flying within a couple of hundred feet of where planes were landing. It was also a larger drone, which would have almost certainly caused damage were there a collision with crewed aircraft.

        The system was capable of not only detecting the drone, but pinpointing the location of the pilot. Law enforcement was immediately dispatched, and the pilot was caught in the act.

        Wary of recent global incidents, authorities at YOW kept a very close watch during the US Presidential visit:

        “We’ve seen a lot of incidents where drones can pose a significant threat, and certainly the war in Ukraine has advanced the offensive nature of drone use considerably,” says Beaudette. “There’s also recent footage of drone infiltration into Russian military installations where they were able to land a drone on top of an aircraft undetected. So you really have to have the capability to detect and respond to those threats.”

        While the system does not have mitigation capabilities at this point (jamming RF frequencies is very complex under Canadian regulations except in extraordinary circumstances), the system is highly capable of real-time drone detection and identification, as well as pinpointing the position of the operator.

        Below: Michael Beaudette, VP of Security, Emergency Management and Customer Transportation at the Ottawa International Airport, during an interview with Scott Simmie

         

        Drone Detection

        EYES ON THE SKY

        The system did detect some drone activity in the National Capital Region during President Biden’s visit, but nothing that was deemed to pose a threat.

        Below: President Biden meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau March 23, 2023. Image via Prime Minister Trudeau’s Twitter account:

        President Biden

        MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

        President Biden, along with his aides and a media contingent, departed YOW the evening of March 24.

        No drone flights were detected at the Ottawa International Airport during the visit.

        “There’s been nothing that looks like it’s targeting the airport or wanting to get a look at Air Force One,” said Beaudette at the close of the Presidential trip.

        Below: File photo of US President Joe Biden boarding Air Force One.

        President Joe Biden

        INDRO’S TAKE

        InDro was, obviously, pleased there were no drone incursions at YOW during the visit by the US President. But it’s nice to know there was a system in place that could have detected any drone flights during this important visit.

        “The Drone Detection Pilot Project has proven its worth since its inception,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece. “Getting no detections and being assured there’s no potential threat is just as valuable as identifying incursions – especially during a high-security event such as this.

        “We’re proud of this ongoing project and our partnership with YOW, NAV Canada, and our technology partners Accipiter, Aerial Armor and Skycope. We believe this has proven to be an effective model, and one that could be deployed with confidence at other major airports or sensitive facilities.”

        Reports are generated on a monthly basis by the YOW drone detection system; we’ll be sure to update you when news warrants. And speaking of that, we issued a news release on this as well. You can download it here.

        CONTACT

        INDRO ROBOTICS
        305, 31 Bastion Square,
        Victoria, BC, V8W 1J1

        P: 1-844-GOINDRO
        (1-844-464-6376)

        E: Info@InDroRobotics.com

        copyright 2022 © InDro Robotics all rights reserved

        CONTACT

        INDRO ROBOTICS
        305, 31 Bastion Square,
        Victoria, BC, V8W 1J1

        P: 1-844-GOINDRO
        (1-844-464-6376)

        E: Info@InDroRobotics.com

        copyright 2022 © InDro Robotics all rights reserved