After a drone scare at London's Heathrow Airport, Transport Canada announced there were changes coming to the laws around drone use in Canada. All drones from 250 grams to 25 kilograms must now be used by certified pilots who have passed an exam. Any drone over 25 kilos will need to be registered.
New rules also include a firm stance on drunk droning and tight restrictions on drone use around airports, the latter of which has drawn praise from local pilots.
"The public needs to be aware that these things can be a harm," said Patrick Dupuis of the Estevan Flying Club, "so there needs to be some sort of awareness, for sure. Just so people know that if they're going to be in airspace there are certain restrictions."
While a drone, especially a 250 gram one, may seem to small to damage a large aircraft, pilots will tell you that's not the case.
"First of all you can actually hit a drone," Dupuis said. "Depending on where you hit it, it could smash your windshield or be sucked into an engine component. It could damage the airframe. And it can also be out on the horizon, so you're flying and the sun can reflect off the drone and it can blind you for a moment."
Dupuis also notes that keeping the area around airports clear isn't just important for planes already in the air. "Statisitally, if you're going to be an accident it's most likely to be when you're taking off or landing," he said.
Pilots have largely come out in favor of the legislation, but those who fly drones or RC aircraft as a hobby have had few complaints either.
"It will actually help us because we'll get more membership and more people coming out to see what we do," said Art Dougherty of the Sun City Propbusters. "It prevents any incursion of any airspace where any big airplanes are flying. It does limit you a little bit flying in the country side but you have to be safe and you have to know what you're doing."
Sun City Propbusters has a longstanding tradition of using RC Planes, though more and more drone pilots have joined them in recent years. RC Planes weren't specifically mentioned in the new legislation, and Dougherty believes he knows why.
"RC planes have always been used for recreation, we've had them for years and years," he said. "Drones, you can fly them out of sight and you can fly them any place. We've always had them flying at a model field but the drones are kind of a lone wolf thing. Someone can fly them and you have no control over them."
Under the new laws, the registered owner of a drone must be at least 14 and a permanent resident or citizen of Canada. Drones are also restricted over emergency situations
Transport Canada reports that a drone over 300 grams can damage a cockpit while flying at speed. Micro drones under 250 grams won't be legislated, though their pilots will still be subject to the law if they pilot recklessly. Those who break the new rules may face fines up to $3000.