Transport Canada published new regulations for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) that weigh 250 grams to 25 kilograms, which took effect on June 1, 2019, in an effort to mitigate operators using drones around aircraft and aerodromes. While these regulations deal with the “rules of the game” for recreational and benign drone use, they do not address intentional incursions and threats.
The problem of malicious incursions has become more acute with the rise of easily purchased inexpensive, yet potentially deadly devices.
Canadian airports, in collaboration with their international counterparts, government and industry partners, are addressing the issue on several fronts. Mark Laroche, chair of the CAC Large Airports Caucus and president and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport, is leading Canada’s efforts on the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) on drone mitigation at airports. The BRTF is a U.S.-Canada initiative commissioned by ACI-NA and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) created to study the benefits and threats of UAS/RPAS in and around airports and to make recommendations to industry and government, and work towards identifying solutions to mitigate this concern. The Task Force released its interim report in July 2019.
A summary of recommendations from the Task Force includes:
- Remote ID rulemaking and technology, including incentivizing voluntary compliance and ensuring data is made available to airport operations and public safety professionals on a real-time basis;
- Communication and response planning, including UAS incursion response plan coordination;
- Risk assessment, including defining roles and responsibilities and advance site-planning assessments;
- Response management, including long-term airport closure planning and establishing clear lines of responsibility for reopening an airport after a UAS incursion;
- Standardization, testing and design, including a call for more technology testing and eventual standards, better data collection, recording and sharing, and a recommendation on geofencing; and
- Education and enforcement, including knowledge tests and a call for robust enforcement.
Addressing this issue from a different angle and complementary to the BRTF initiative, last May, the Ottawa International Airport and Transport Canada hosted a “tabletop exercise” on drone incursions at airports. Both Canadian and U.S. delegates attended the successful exercise.