Dangerous Drone

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.

Noise Violates The By-Law

The Phelan RC Flying club operates RC aircraft not real airplanes.  They do not transport people or merchandise like a Boeing 747 nor provide defense like a CF-18.  However, these model planes can sound like the real thing and it appears that the intention is to replicate the same noise patterns; it’s part of the fun. A quote from the “Ottawa Valley Jets” on their Facebook page from June 30th 2018 expresses this; “Come out and see Radio Control Jet Aircraft flying. These models are powered by real gas turbine. They look, sound and fly like the real deal.”

In the City of Ottawa a neighbour of a MAAC RC flying club may be forced to endure to awful noise.  Case in point, the Phelan RC Flying Club operates large, loud and disturbing RC aircraft but the City of Ottawa refuses to enforce the noise by-law.  In response to numerous noise complains, the City of Ottawa's official response has been that while there are applicable by-laws it is their discretion to choose which laws to enforce. The City of Ottawa and the Phelan RC Flying Club were notified that the family has a baby. One must wonder why the City of Ottawa protects the members of an RC flying club, many of whom do not even live in the City of Ottawa.  The City of Ottawa has been provided with noise samples.

RC Plane Noise Heard from Inside the House

RC Helicopter Noise

RC Jet Noise

In the City of Ottawa, if an RC Flying Club establishes in an area, should the residents expect protection or is that only for select residents?

City of Ottawa Noise By-Law


The following section of the City of Ottawa Noise by-law refers to noise during the day related to noise reproduction devices; notice that it is set to 55 dB(A).

Section 4 - Sound reproduction or amplification devices

7.No person shall operate or cause to be operated or used any sound reproduction device between 0700 hours and 2300 hours of the same day, the noise from which sound reproduction device has an equivalent sound level (Leq) greater than 55 dB(A) when measured outside of the business, dwelling house, apartment house, hotel or other residence, at or inside the property line of the business owner or person whose peace and comfort has been disturbed.

The aircraft category of the noise by-law should not apply to the hobby aircraft which does not involve real aircraft.  Calling the Ottawa International Airport to report noise issues from drone RC aircraft does not make sense.

Aircraft noise

The City of Ottawa has no jurisdiction over aircraft noise. Please contact the Ottawa International Airport 24-hour noise complaint service at 613-248-2023.

The following section of the noise by-law referrers to “Unusual Noise, Noise Likely to Disturb.”  Both parts of the section apply here as the RC aircraft technology used at the Phelan RC Flying Club are new therefore classify as unusual.  Noise likely to disturb applies as it disturbs the inhabitants of the city.


2. No person shall cause or permit any bass noise, unusual noise or noise likely to disturb the inhabitants of the City.

Phelan RC Flying Club Noise Violates the By-Law

First the noise by-law, “UNUSUAL NOISE, NOISE LIKELY TO DISTURB” if applied would immediately stop the noise problem.  For the purpose of exploring how extreme this noise problem is at this location, noise measurements are compared to the 55 dBA limit shown above.

The City of Ottawa by-law limit is set to 55 dBA for sound reproduction noise during the day.   The Phelan RC Flying Club has set the maximum noise threshold to 96 dBA at 3 meters.

Phelan RC Flying Club


 Part 2: Flying Safety Rules
3) Effective mufflers are required on all reciprocating engines. The general noise standard shall be a maximum of 96 dBA at 3m, but the executive may require further noise reduction measures for models (including those with electric power) deemed to be excessively noisy or irritating.

With the help of the noise-distance calculator available online at Noise Tools (http://noisetools.net/noisecalculator) it is easy to see what the noise level should be at the neighbouring property line compared to the limit set by the Phelan RC Flying Club.  According to Google Maps the runway of the Phelan RC Flying club is 70 meters from then neighbouring property line.

If the maximum noise threshold measured at the neighbour’s property line was the by-law limit of 55 dBA, then according to the noise-distance calculator, the club should set a maximum of 82 dBA at 3m instead of 96 dBA at 3m.


Using the Phelan RC Flying Club’s maximum noise level of 96 dBA at 3 meters from their rules means that at the neighbouring property line 70 meters away, the noise level should be a maximum of 69 dBA.  This is 14 dBA above the by-law.


As if this was not bad enough, the Phelan RC Flying Club does not even enforce this maximum; instead the club flies making as much noise as they please with no one to stop them.  Despite having been given prior notice from their neigbours that noise has been a particular concern, it appears that the club president, and/or his agents and/or other members of the club have brought in new members.  These new members have brought in ‘giant’ aircraft that generate a proportionately even larger amount of noise.

New Members with Giant Scale Aircraft

Noise from the Phelan RC Flying Club Exceeds Their Own Rules

The following are just a few sample noise measurements from the Phelan RC Flying club aircraft that were taken from the neighbouring property line.  In this example, all three samples were from a grey plane that resembles a spitfire.

June 29 at 10:30 am - 73.5 DBA
July 3 at 10:05 am - 74.5 DBA
July 3 at 10:45 am - 74.3 DBA

These samples show a noise measurement averaging about 74 dBA.  Using the noise-distance calculator, we can see what the noise is calculated at 3 meters so that we can compare to the 96 dBA maximum set in the club’s rule.  The calculated noise level is 101 dBA at 3 meters. 

This shows that the Phelan RC Flying Club’s noise rule is broken because the noise measurement is above 96 dBA.  This noise measurement is also 19 dBA above the 55 dBA set in the by-law at the neighbours property line.


 The following sample was taken from the south side of the road about 70 meters away from the Phelan RC Flying Club’s runway.  The noise measurement taken was from a jet.  Note that there were many jets that few that day registering above 75 dBA from the neighbouring property line.

July 14 at 1:35 pm - 77.7 dBA

The jet noise measurement taken from the road about 70 meters from the aircraft shows a noise measurement of 77.7 dBA.  This means that 104 dBA are produced at 3 meters.  Again, the Phelan RC Flying Club’s noise rule is broken because the noise measurement is above 96 dBA.  It is also 22 dBA above the by-law at the neighbouring property line.


Understanding Noise and Distance

To explain what the proper distance should be, the website Sengpielaudio (http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-distance.htm) brakes down how noise travels to this simple statement, “There is no noise decrease (sound reduction) or sound drop per meter.  We get a sound level drop of 6 dB per doubling of distance.”

Distance Required

The heart of this matter is the distance the flying zone is from the neighbours and what aircraft the club is flying, also that the club flies aircraft within the flying zone of the club’s site; not over neighbouring property, the road or no-fly-zone.  

Referencing the AMA noise documentation titled, “AMA Sound/Noise Abatement Recommendations” (https://www.modelaircraft.org/sites/default/files/927.pdf) it states, “Normally that number will be between 50 and 65 db for what is allowed to cross a property line.”  The City of Ottawa by-law shows a 55 dBA threshold which appears consistent with the AMA guidelines.  Looking on the MAAC website, no rules referring to restricting noise could be found.

Using the 55 dBA noise limit specified in the City of Ottawa By-Law and the model jet producing 77 dBA at the neighbours’ property line the distance required to operate within the by-law can be calculated.  According to the noise-distance calculator, in order to fly this model jet, the Phelan RC Flying Club’s runway should be at least 845 meters away from the neighbouring property line. This 845 meter value is not buffered so there should be even more distance to ensure that noise is contained within the club site.  If aircraft with a higher dBA are operated, then the distance needs to be increased.


This number is large but it makes sense because the noise can be heard more than a kilometer away.  It also shows how loud the noise is when only 70 meters away instead of 845 meters away.  In addition, the noise is produced in the air without any noise dampening effect that could exist if the noise was produced at ground level.  This information should be taken into account when determining the suitability of a RC flying club location.  In order to take legal action privately regarding a noise issue, getting a third party who specializes in acoustic measurements is important.  Note that it could take some research but one may find many places offering acoustic measurements that are familiar with the model aircraft noise problem.  In the case of the Phelan RC Flying Club, the members are not the ones living beside the club; they just expose the residents beside the club to the noise of their aircraft then get to go back to the comfort of their home away from all that noise.