Almost four years ago Transport Canada clamped down on drone usage, as they announced new regulations to address safety concerns related to the flying devices.
The new rules included several ‘no fly zones’ including within nine kilometres of an airport, heliport or seaplane base, and within 75 metres of buildings, vehicles, animals and people or crowds.
They also limited the heights a user could fly and also restricted the times and circumstances they could be used.
Disobeying the rules meant hefty fines, and back in 2017 none of this news sat well with Abbotsford resident Stefan Tam.
At the time, he called the new rules ‘outrageous’ and was disappointed with the way the new rules would take away from a family hobby.
Fast forward to today and Tam reached out to The News to explain how wrong he was four years ago and how the new restrictions have been a great thing for the drone community and safety.
“Since that time I now am a licensed advanced pilot,” he told The News. “I look back on my knee jerk reaction and I am actually embarrassed. I was shocked to learn how recklessly people operated their drones and I now support and encourage getting an education on how to properly use your drone.”
Tam said the misuse of drones and the dangerous operations of drones has gone down in recent years, with the regulations likely contributing to the fewer incidents.
The Abbotsford Police Department also has drone detection equipment and have used it in the past, including during the Abbotsford International Airshow. Footage posted to YouTube of a drone flying in close proximity to the Alex Fraser Bridge in November 2017 made headlines, and this summer it was revealed that an RCMP drone collided with an RCMP helicopter near Houston, B.C. in February 2020.
Tam said the new regulations forced him to get the proper licensing required to fly locally and he currently has an advanced level drone operator’s licence from Transport Canada. He said the basic course takes about three days and is relatively inexpensive. Users must be at least 14 years old to get a basic licence and 16 years old for an advanced.
All drones must also be registered, with those using unregistered drones opening themselves up to fines. Tam and other advanced licence holders can operate in controlled airspaces but they must ask NAV CANADA for authorization.
Tam actually started his own drone-based business last October called Send in the Drones, which is an aerial inspection, survey and mapping service based in Abbotsford. He said he’s worked with local construction companies and survey companies. He said he’d also like to work with local search and rescue groups, and first responder city services such as the APD or Abbotsford Fire Rescue Services.
“Drones aren’t replacing people’s jobs, they are an addition to people’s jobs,” he said. “It’s just another assistant. For example when you’re surveying someone’s property all you’re doing is gathering way points and data. And if you have something that can do it faster, then great.”
Tam pointed out that construction or industrial companies can use drones for tasks that free up workers to safer activities.
“We can give them options and give them the data,” he said.
For more information on the company, visit sendinthedrones.ca.