from the laws-must-be-for-other-people-eh dept
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating after a York regional police drone collided with an airplane approaching Buttonville Airport in Markham last week.
Police confirmed to CityNews they had deployed a Remote Piloted Vehicle (RPV), known more commonly as a drone, as part of an investigation near the airport on August 10.
While it was being operated, the drone collided with a Cessna 172 operated by Canadian Flyers International that was attempting to land. There was an instructor and student pilot on board.
No injuries were reported and the plane was able to land without any further incidents.
This may sound like an open and transparent response by the York police about its irresponsible drone piloting, but this admission about the incident at the Toronto airport was prompted by the Canadian government’s report on the incident, which was released eight days after the accident.
And the police haven’t had much else to say about its errant drone, which apparently came only inches from killing everyone on board.
Dario Matrundola, who is one of the owners of the flight school Canadian Flyers, said had the drone struck a few inches further away, both occupants could’ve been killed.
“It would have been a tragedy, it would’ve been loss of life or injuries for sure. The pilots are very lucky they were able to land the plane and avoid injuries,” said Matrundola.
Here’s Transport Canada’s summary of the accident:
The instructor for a Canadian Flyers International Inc. Cessna 172N (C-GKWL) reported that they had just turned from base leg to final for Runway 15 at Toronto/Buttonville, ON (CYKZ) and were established and stable at 1100 ASL, or about 500 AGL, when they felt a jolt that pushed them back on their seat. They thought they had hit a large bird. They proceeded to land. There was no change in configuration or power since they were about to land. When exiting the aircraft, they were shocked to see a major dent on the left underside of the engine cowling. The airbox was also bent. A few hours later, a police detective confirmed a York Regional Police drone had struck their aircraft. The aircraft suffered major damage, including a propeller strike.
The report also points out NavCanada, which oversees the country’s civil air navigation system, was not made aware of the drone flight nor the York Police’s interest in sending a drone up into the airport’s airspace to engage in an investigation.
If this had been a “civilian” drone, the public would have been informed immediately and regularly updated with progress on catching the perp. But this was a cop flight, so the cops acknowledged the flight when they could no longer deny it, and only because they were now the subject of an investigation by another government body.
It is indeed illegal to fly a drone within three nautical miles of an airport. This ban on operation can only be temporarily lifted with the explicit permission of NavCanada. Obviously this didn’t happen. The only question now should be whether the York Police is an individual or a corporation.
Fines for individuals
up to $1,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
up to $1,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
up to $1,000 for flying where you are not allowed
up to $3,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk
Fines for corporations
up to $5,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
up to $5,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
up to $5,000 for flying where you are not allowed
up to $15,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk
And don’t forget to stack the charges!
If you break more than one rule, you could receive multiple penalties.
Supposedly, everyone is just waiting for the TSB to conclude its investigation. And then there will be more waiting while the York Police engages in its own investigation. Possibly in the next few weeks or months, the news will have cycled often enough someone can fire off a press release late in the afternoon just ahead of the next convenient bank holiday.
Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe someone will get rung up for being completely irresponsible on top of actually violating federal law. But I doubt it. When a citizen does it, nothing can get the police to shut up about it. But when the police do it, no member of the public can get them to start talking, much less treat their own internal lawbreaking as seriously as they treat lawbreaking by outsiders.
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