A first happened over Quebec City’s Jean Lesage airport – a drone aircraft collided with a Skyjet passenger craft in the first ever passenger-aircraft-drone collision in Canada.
The Skyjet passenger plane was struck by a commercial drone as it approached Jean Lesage airport in Canada’s Quebec City in the province of Quebec. The plane landed safely and the passengers on board sustained no injuries.
The aircraft weathered the ordeal with only minor damage in the encounter but the incident alone has summoned questions about the safety of drone aircraft operating within the vicinity of commercial aircraft facilities such as airports. It has also placed a degree of scrutiny on commercial drone aircraft operators, who are a largely self-regulated group of hobbyists.
Canadian Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau stated the obvious, commenting, “This should not have happened. That drone should not have been there,” and further observing that the incident could have become of a more serious nature had the drone crashed into the cockpit or one of the plane’s engines, an incident that he theorized would be “catastrophic.”
In a press conference in Montreal on October 15, 2017, Garneau said “It's important to note that aircraft are particularly vulnerable when on final approach coming in — the pilot is concentrating on landing properly” and reminded drone aircraft operators to observe the regulations governing drone usage in their areas. As described above, the Skyjet passenger craft was on approach to Jean Lesage Airport for a landing.
The burgeoning commercial drone industry has escaped regulation in the United States and Canada, with much of the burden of regulation falling upon drone operators and affiliated trade groups and fan-driven, grassroots organizations.
Transport Canada has worked with drone operators to develop safety rules regarding the operation of drone aircraft, recommending that drones not fly within a 5.5 kilometers distance from an airport and 1.8 kilometers from a heliport without first obtaining prior approval from necessary authorities
At the time of impact with the Skyjet passenger craft, the drone was alleged to be flying at a height of approximately 450 meters according to the CBC.
After the incident in Quebec City it is safe to say that the push by the Canadian government to regulate drone usage around commercial air facilities will probably grow rather than dissipate and drone operators can face increased scrutiny or even licensing in the future.
Given the huge popularity of drones among photographers, incidents such as these are always bad news for us. Some regard it as only a matter of time before more regulations are put in place to stop things like this happening.