This site seeks to inform the public of the dangers and abuses related to the use of drones, model aircraft and RPAS for recreation. It contains research gathered from multiple sources and asks important questions as well as exploring possible solutions to a challenging public safety issue.
Right now in Canada, unlicensed pilots can remotely fly unmanned dangerous flying machines. These aircraft can be the size of a car, move at hundreds of kilometers an hour, be built with spare parts, lack professional quality control, use first person view technology, without the operator having to pass physical or skill testing, be without any proper enforcement and operate in close proximity to residents. Scarier still is the fact that operators are permitted to have access to alcohol!
Due to the close proximity currently allowed, residents living next to groups like RC Flying Clubs may be forced to endure the following behavior from aircraft operators: endless hours of awful loud noise and flying over neighbouring homes, property and family members. These aircraft are able to be operated without line of sight using mounted cameras and can expel exhaust which may permeate the air both inside and outside of neighbouring homes. Crashes are common place. Property owners may experience intimidation, threats and trespassing especially if they complain about an RC flying club.
Research exposes many troubling topics related to this recreation around the world. There is a dangerous culture of celebrating crashes and crashing is common. There is significant risk to property. There is risk of uncontrolled fires. People get hurt but not just the pilots; there have been documented cases of injury to children who had nothing to do with the activity. People have died but not just the pilots; people hundreds of meters away from the pilot have also been killed as a result. There is a history of litigation related to reckless endangerment. One can even find evidence of these kinds of aircraft used for terrorism and smuggling contraband including illegal narcotics.
There is evidence of conflict of interest. There are private businesses profiting from this dangerous activity.
Drone operation requirements are set out in Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs). These regulations on their own may give one pause when considering just how difficult they would be to enforce and just how many problems are on the horizon with the increase in drone use. It appears that the requirements were designed for the industry not specifically for the recreation. One would think that the drone industry and insurance companies would be pushing for increased regulation in order to ensure safe activity and not be caught up in the risks posed by the recreation.
In 2019, Transport Canada granted the CARs exemption to the drone, model aircraft, RC aircraft hobby. Specifically, the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada (MAAC) which is a private organization gets responsibility for public safety even though they are a private group whose function is dependent upon membership dollars from those in the hobby. There is a focus on reduced regulations while putting responsibility on individual MAAC club members. It’s up to the MAAC club executives to enforce the rules and herein lies an example of conflict of interest. Case in point is the Phelan RC Flying Club. Here, one MAAC club executive is the MAAC club president, who is also a MAAC Zone director on the board of MAAC directors as well as having private business interests associated with the recreation.