Clarion's Chief UAS Pilot discusses new drone regulations
Toronto-born man who posted drone footage says no one was in 'any danger'
By Chris Glover · CBC News ·
Drone footage captured stunning overhead images of the party during the Toronto Raptors victory celebrations, but some in the aviation community say it was unsafe and even potentially illegal to fly drones over the crowd. (Screenshot from @guutoby video)
A drone pilot instructor says recent "brazen" drone videos posted online of the parade and rally celebrating the Toronto Raptors' NBA championship are a "slap in the face" to professional operators and Transport Canada, which recently released new rules governing unmanned flight operations.
"People still drink and drive, which is unfortunate, and people are still going to do illegal flights here and there, but I believe that this was pretty brazen," Darren Clarke, chief pilot at Clarion Drone Academy based in Kitchener, Ont., said about the June 17 downtown parade and subsequent rally at city hall.
"I think this was not only a slap in the face to the professional Canadian operators, but certainly our aviation agency, Transport Canada," Clarke said.
Several videos of the partying were shot from the sky following the Raptors' NBA Finals win, and posted to the Instagram account @guutoby belonging to Toronto-born Toby Gu.
"I have put a drone over bigger crowds and there's never been an issue," Gu said in an interview from Prague. "I didn't think that there was any danger."
The Toronto-born man admits he isn't licensed to fly a drone and his drones are not registered, both violations under Canada's new rules governing drone use, which came into effect in June.
But Gu thinks the new Canadian laws around drones go too far.
"You're basically getting a pilot license without having to fly an airplane," he said. "If you make it easy to follow the rules they will follow the rules, but if you make it impossible to follow the rules then they're just going to break them."
Initially, Transport Canada said a preliminary review was conducted which "determined there was not enough evidence" to open an investigation into the unlicensed flying.
However, late on Wednesday the agency said "additional information has been brought forward and the department has opened an investigation."
Transport Canada response 'not up to snuff,' pilot says
The videos Gu posted last week show him with a DJI Mavic Pro drone, which is not approved to fly over crowds in Canada, according to Clarke and other drone pilots who spoke to CBC.
Clarke said a drone accident could cause injuries in a crowd, and drones can be weaponized to cause extensive damage. He said Transport Canada's initial response to this situation "was really not up to snuff."
Watch as the drone pilot responds to criticism:
"I don't want to put the panic onto everybody but we've got to look outside the box here," said Clarke, noting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in attendance that day.
"We see this [drone footage] and we kind of get let down a little bit, and then you see the response from Transport Canada and it just lets you down even more, and then you start thinking, 'What do we have the rules for.'"
Special permission needed for airspace
The airspace around Nathan Phillips Square was restricted the day of the Raptors' party, so anyone operating a drone would have needed permission from Nav Canada, the company that owns and operates Canada's civil air navigation service, and would have needed to apply for a special flight operations certificate from Transport Canada.
Neither Nav Canada nor Transport Canada received a request from Gu to fly on the day of the parade in the restricted area.
For example, under the new regulations, a violation of "flying where you are not allowed" is punishable for an individual with a fine up to $1,000.
The morning of the Raptors' championship event, Transport Canada tweeted for people to leave their drones at home.
Police accept apology from drone operator
The Toronto Police Service said it is not investigating the matter.
"An officer did however speak with a male flying a drone over the crowd on Bay Street. With some education on the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARS), the male apologized," a police spokesperson wrote to CBC Toronto in a statement.
After the videos were published online, Canada's largest organization representing the drone industry, Unmanned Systems Canada (USC), released a statement that it had "concerns" over the way drones were shown to have been used during the parade and the party at Nathan Phillips Square.
USC applauded the "unique perspective" of drone captured videos, but questioned whether it was "safely and legally" captured.
Since new drone regulations came into effect in Canada on June 1, USC said, it hoped commercial and recreational operators in Canada would use these videos as a "teachable moment" for how to avoid unsafe or illegal flights.
The country of Jordan is experiencing some serious buyer's remorse.
At least one buyer of China’s copy of the famous Predator is none too happy. Jordan is selling off its fleet of CH-4B “Rainbow” drones after owning them for just two years. The Middle Eastern kingdom was reportedly not happy with the drones’ performance and is seeking to unload them at auction.
The CH-4B drones first surfaced in public media in 2016. Built by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), the CH-4B appears very similar to the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper armed unmanned aerial vehicle. The CH-4B also carried some impressive specs, with Popular Mechanics noting in July 2016 it could carry, “up to 770 pounds of munitions, including the Blue Arrow 7 laser-guided air-to-surface missile, TG-100 laser, inertial or GPS-guided bombs, and the HJ-10 anti-tank missile.” The Chinese drone could also fly for up to 14 hours, loitering over mission areas for the better part of the day.
As late as last year pundits were already calling China a winner of the rush to sell armed drones abroad, as U.S. red tape can often hold up arms sales for years. China does not have that problem and has sold the CH-4B to numerous countries, including Algeria, Nigeria, Jordan, Zambia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and Myanmar.
But there's one problem: CASTC has an inferior drone problem. According to FlightGlobal, Jordan has complained about its drone fleet since 2018. The Royal Jordanian Air Force declined to go into specifics as to why the CH-4B is let down, but simply said it was downsizing and removing several types of aircraft from its fleet. According to Shepard Media, as late as November 2018, Jordan admitted it was “not happy with the aircraft’s performance and was looking to retire them.”
If you’re interested in a Chinese drone fleet of your own, bidding for the CH-4Bs ends on July 1st.By Kyle Mizokami
Aeromao from Canada is pleased to announce that the Aeromappers line of commercial grade drones have been added to the list of compliant UAV systems of Transport Canada. This distinction allows Canadian organizations using Aeromapper drones to apply for Compliant Operator status.
A total of four drone system models the company produces have been added to the list of compliant UAV systems for advanced operations, according to Transport Canada UAS Standard:
- Aeromapper Talon
- Aeromapper 300
- (New) Quad Mapper VTOL: fixed wing system with VTOL capabilities
- (New) Nano Mapper: sub 1Kg. fixed wing drone suited for agriculture and high affordability.
Two more variants of the Aeromapper Talon are currently awaiting confirmation from Transport Canada to be added to the list of compliant drones: Aeromapper Talon Amphibious and Aeromapper Talon LITE (a 3hr endurance version also suitable for BVLOS operations).
“Aeromao’s UAV solutions officially meet Transport Canada’s standards of safety and efficiency. We are truly excited to continue assisting Canadian and foreign customers with their drone programs, not only by ensuring that our systems continue meeting the latest regulatory policy changes but also by diversifying our line of commercial drone systems that fit all customer requirements and budgets” says Mauricio Ortiz, CEO of Aeromao.
The Aeromappers have demonstrated over the years a history of safe operation in some of the harshest environmental conditions both in Canada and other countries around the world.
For more information please visit www.aeromao.com
Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, a leading UAS service provider and manufacturer of the Silent Falcon™, a solar electric, fixed wing, Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), is pleased to announce the introduction of the Silent Falcon™ EE or Extended Endurance model. The Silent Falcon™ EE incorporates the newest technological innovations in solar panels, battery and solar power conversion. Silent Falcon™ EE can stay aloft for up to 8 hours in day time, and 4 hours at night.
The communications capabilities of the Silent Falcon™ EE have also been upgraded by including three MIMO MANET radios at the Ground Control Station with the SF TriAntenna configuration. This configuration significantly increases connectivity, bandwidth and reliability. It also allows one of the radios to be used to be used to connect a remote site, such as a command center to the radio network.
This is an exceptional technological achievement for Silent Falcon™ as it continues to extend its mission set, expand its capabilities and perform more challenging assignments. The Silent Falcon™ platform has been successfully used in various Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; Search and Rescue and long-range border patrol missions across the globe; and in extreme environmental conditions while assisting the US Department of Interior in wildfire fighting operations. Its long-range, long-endurance attributes, as well as its portability and very small operational footprint proved to be key factors contributing to the success of these missions.
“We continually push the envelope bringing new and proven technologies to the Silent Falcon™ Unmanned Aircraft System, increasing its capabilities, reliability and applicability to diverse missions. The Silent Falcon™ is an open interface, open architecture modular system that was designed to easily integrate new technologies and capabilities once they have been proven in the field. The Silent Falcon™ EE is a great example of this —“ extended endurance with more robust solar power, and rock-solid communications for more reliable longer-range missions” said John W. Brown Silent Falcon’s™ Chairman and CEO.” We are flying the Silent Falcon™ EE now for our own UAS services customers and look forward to making it the new standard for long endurance, long range electric UAS”.By Press
The South African National Blood Service (SANBS) and Western Cape Blood Service (WCBS) came together at the North Eastern Radio Flyers in Sandton to showcase how they intend to save more lives using drone technology.
The TRON Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is a highly specialized aircraft that will be used to transport blood from blood banks to hospitals in remote areas. The TRON, like a helicopter, is capable of vertically taking off and landing. Once in flight, it switches into a highly efficient aircraft. In an emergency, blood can be delivered to hospitals much faster and more efficiently than ever before.
According to the SANBS, the TRON aerial vehicle will be a South African first, complementing the existing logistics infrastructure. It will continue to cement the not-for-profit organization’s place as a thought leader and a cornerstone of the healthcare system in SA through the gift of life.
“We believe that this is an innovative step in the history of blood transfusion. SANBS is determined to improve rapid access to life-saving blood products in rural areas through the use of drone technology. Our concept is globally unique in that we will provide two-way logistics; patients can receive emergency “O negative” blood from one of our blood banks via drone. The same drone can then take that patient’s blood sample to the blood bank for comprehensive cross-matching and then safely and rapidly deliver compatible blood back to the patient” says Dr. Jonathan Louw, CEO of the SANBS.
The WCBS say that this initiative is commendable and will indeed be instrumental in saving lives. “We celebrate a milestone. Our main aim as a blood service in the Western Cape is to save people’s lives by providing sufficient, safe blood. Drones will assist us to provide blood timeously to where it is needed,” says Dr Greg Bellairs, WCBS CEO/Medical Director.By Press
As of June 1, 2019, new Transport Canada regulations apply to all remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) operating in Canadian airspace. Owners of RPAs (also known as drones or UAVs) must follow the requirements for operating their RPA in each class of Canadian airspace.
What you need to know
Airspace in Canada is classified as controlled or uncontrolled. If you plan to operate in uncontrolled airspace (Class G), you will need a Transport Canada Pilot Certificate – Basic Operations. NAV CANADA does not provide authorization for RPA flights in uncontrolled airspace.
If you plan to operate your RPA in controlled airspace (Classes C, D or E) you must have a
Transport Canada Pilot Certificate – Advanced Operations and
you must obtain a written
RPAS Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA,
by submitting an RPAS Flight Authorization Request.
In addition, all RPA pilots must comply with all applicable legislation, including Canadian Aviation Regulations.
Submitting an RPAS Flight Authorization Request
To submit an RPAS Flight Authorization Request, follow these steps:
- Determine the flight information region for your RPA flight. You will need this information for the authorization form.
- Complete and submit the online RPAS Flight Authorization Request.
- Once submitted, a reference number will be issued and used in any future correspondence relating to this request. The request will be sent to the appropriate NAV CANADA regional RPAS office for review.
- Depending on the complexity of your request, expect a minimum of 48 hours to 14 days for review. You cannot operate your RPA in controlled airspace unless you receive a written RPAS Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA. Failure to comply with legal requirements when flying an RPA, including failure to obtain an RPAS Flight Authorization from NAV CANADA before flying an RPA in controlled airspace, can give rise to serious penalties, including fines and jail time.
- Please ensure that you have proof of your RPAS Flight Authorization on hand at all times when flying your RPA.
Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for industry and government.
Electric utilities use them to inspect transmission lines. Oil companies fly them over pipelines. The Interior Department even deployed them to track lava flows at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.
But the Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose security risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen.
The department sent out an alert on the subject on May 20, and a video on its websitenotes that drones in general pose multiple threats, including "their potential use for terrorism, mass casualty incidents, interference with air traffic, as well as corporate espionage and invasions of privacy."
We could pull information down and upload information on a flying drone. You could also hijack the drone."
Lanier Watkins, cyber-research scientist at Johns Hopkins University
"We're not being paranoid," the video's narrator adds.
Most drones bought in the U.S. are manufactured in China, with most of those drones made by one company, DJI Technology. Lanier Watkins, a cyber-research scientist at Johns Hopkins University's Information Security Institute, said his team discovered vulnerabilities in DJI's drones.
"We could pull information down and upload information on a flying drone," Watkins said. "You could also hijack the drone."
The vulnerabilities meant that "someone who was interested in, you know, where a certain pipeline network was or maybe the vulnerabilities in a power utilities' wiring might be able to access that information," he noted.
DJI offered a bounty for researchers to uncover bugs in its drones, although Walker said Johns Hopkins didn't accept any money.
In a statement, DJI said:
"At DJI, safety is at the core of everything we do, and the security of our technology has been independently verified by the U.S. government and leading U.S. businesses. DJI is leading the industry on this topic and our technology platform has enabled businesses and government agencies to establish best practices for managing their drone data. We give all customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted.
"For government and critical infrastructure customers that require additional assurances, we provide drones that do not transfer data to DJI or via the Internet, and our customers can enable all the precautions DHS recommends. Every day, American businesses, first responders, and U.S. government agencies trust DJI drones to help save lives, promote worker safety, and support vital operations, and we take that responsibility very seriously. We are committed to continuously working with our customers and industry and government stakeholders to ensure our technology adheres to all of their requirements."
There are other, more covert, ways that foreign governments could obtain the type of information gathered by drones, said John Villasenor, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"[If] you fly a drone above a pipeline, there's a pretty good chance someone is gonna see it up there," he said, but "a spy satellite just takes a picture from 120 miles up or whatever. Then, of course, no one's going to know what happened."
This is not the first time the U.S. government has expressed concern over the use of Chinese-made drones. In 2017, the U.S. Army barred use of DJI's drones.
Villasenor said the government's concern over Chinese drones "is not new, although the fact that it has surfaced now may or may not be tied to these broader trade tensions which have flared up in recent months."
The Department of Homeland Security's warning about Chinese drones coincides with the Trump administration's campaign against tech manufacturer Huawei, which also coincides with the ongoing trade war between the two countries.
t also comes as officials are warning transit agencies in New York and Washington, D.C., against buying new subway cars made by a Chinese manufacturer.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., along with the region's other Democratic senators, has introduced legislation prohibiting the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority from buying the Chinese-made cars because of security concerns.
"A rail car might have a whole host of sensors [and] communication tools, and when that equipment is manufactured in China," Warner said, "and when that equipment sometimes can be upgraded on a remote basis in terms of a software upgrade, there are national security implications."
Underlying the tech concerns is the Chinese government's control over all Chinese companies.
"The Communist Party of China now has in their law the ability to interfere and take information from virtually every Chinese company," Warner warned. "And as long as that exists, that provides a whole set of vulnerabilities I think American business has to consider on a going-forward basis."
The bottom line, the Department of Homeland Security said, is that customers should be cautious when buying Chinese technology.By Brian Naylor NPR
DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, announced Manifold 2, an ultra-compact onboard supercomputer for DJI drones that enables the next-generation of autonomous aerial robotics solutions. With the additional compute capability of Manifold 2, users can process complex image data onboard the drone and get results immediately and can program drones to fly autonomously while identifying objects and avoiding obstacles.
Manifold 2 expands the use cases of drone technology exponentially by allowing businesses, developers and researchers to build the most advanced autonomous aerial robotics solutions for nearly any industry or task. It is now available for purchase through authorized DJI Enterprise resellers worldwide.