New rules come into effect for drone users

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The federal government's new rules on the use of aerial drones came into force on June 1 and some local drone operators say the fresh regulations will really help their hobby take off.

In January, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced all drone operators in Canada would require an official licence that would clearly state where someone can fly a drone and under what conditions.

It would also make sure that anyone wanting to fly a drone must pass a proper test to ensure they know the rules before they take to the air.

Chris Healy, owner and operator of IN-FLIGHT Data, calls the new rules "a wonderful thing for aviation in Canada."

"I no longer have to reach out to Transport Canada for specific permission every time I want to go out and fly. As long as I've got my permit and I know the rules, I can go out."

Healy says the test is also a big part of what drone operators need to know.

"There's a knowledge standard that you must meet and, depending on your type of operation, whether it’s a basic operation or advanced operation, will dictate the type of test that you take."

Once a drone pilot passes the test, Healy says Transport Canada will issue a permit that an operator needs to keep with them every time they fly.

Healy says anyone who is concerned about drone usage in their area should contact local authorities, either the Calgary Police Service or the City of Calgary by calling 311.

"Drones are allowed to be flown in the City of Calgary because there is uncontrolled airspace in the city and you may see drones flying around. What is important to note is that in order to fly a drone near or overtop of someone, your aircraft has to have a specific rating to do that."

Drone flying has a variety of uses, Healy says, including real estate photography, action photography, filming, farmer field assessments and geomatics.

Thanks to the advances in technology, drone operation has reached a much wider audience and Healy says the rules will help to regulate those freedoms.

"Now, with the use of drones, anyone can, with proper training and proper licensing, get the perspective of Earth which was usually meant for the purview of pilots or astronauts."

The full rules and regulations can be found on Transport Canada's website.

Violators of the new rules could end up being fined up to $25,000 or face jail time.

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