Release #: 19.03
January 10, 2019

Transport Canada Drone Regulations Do Not Go Far Enough

Pilots urge government to add more protections for the traveling public

OTTAWA, Ont.—The Canadian government’s recent announcement of regulations for small remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly referred to as drones, are a good first step, but the regulations fall short of adequately protecting passengers, cargo, and crews on commercial flights in Canada.

“Our outstanding issues with the proposed regulations have not been adequately addressed in the new regulations. While we remain in favour of proceeding with the regulations to immediately improve our regulatory framework, this fast-growing sector of aviation still needs better regulations to ensure the safety of our skies,” said Capt. Tim Perry, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) Canada president. “To achieve this, our outstanding issues should be addressed as soon as possible during the implementation phase.”

ALPA participated in the development of the regulations, providing extensive feedback to various proposals throughout the process. Despite these efforts, several instances—a collision near Quebec City and the recent shutdowns of Gatwick and Heathrow airports due to drone sightings—illustrate the need for more robust regulations.

ALPA’s top-five outstanding issues with the regulatory framework announced yesterday:

  1. Permitting up to five RPASs for one pilot is unacceptable. This was considered and rejected by other regulators.
  2. Permitting RPAS flights as close a distance as 3 nm from airports, and closer in some circumstances, is an unacceptable risk. The limit should be 5 nm from all places where commercial aircraft takeoff and land.
  3. Transport Canada should regulate all drone operations and not delegate their oversight responsibilities. Members of the Model Aeronautics Association of Canada will be exempt from the regulations for recreational flights. ALPA is concerned about the increasing complexity of this sector and the ability of a third party to adequately self-regulate this large and growing sector.
  4. Airworthiness oversight of the RPAS aircraft involved has not been given the attention it should receive.
  5. Night operations are permitted with only sufficient illumination to permit the operator of the RPAS to see the RPAS aircraft but not necessarily for pilots of other aircraft to see it.

“ALPA will continue to work with Transport Canada and the RPAS stakeholders during the implementation phase to maximize safety for those who travel by and work in the air,” Capt. Perry added.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 61,000 pilots at 33 airlines in Canada and the United States, including Air Georgian, Air Transat, Bearskin, Calm Air, Canadian North, First Air, Jazz Aviation, Kelowna Flightcraft, Sky Regional, Wasaya, WestJet, and WestJet Encore. It is also the largest nongovernmental aviation safety organization in the world. Visit the ALPA website at or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.


CONTACT: ALPA Media, 703-481-4440 or