New study finds increased use of drones leads to more incidents in Canada


A new study of Canada’s University of Calgary has revealed that the country’s airspace is witnessing more incidents involving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.

Entitled ‘Reported UAV Incidents in Canada: Analysis and Potential Solutions’, the study also said that drones have outnumbered piloted aircraft in the country, leading to an increase in safety concerns.

Led by the university’s Geography doctoral student Paul Nesbit, the study has examined drone incident data in the country from the Transport Canada Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System (CADORs) database.

According to the data, a total of 355 drone incidents were reported in Canadian airspace between November 2005 and last December.

Of the incidents, 66.5% were drone sightings, while 22.3% involved close encounters between drones and piloted aircraft.

The incidents began to significantly increase after 2013 as drone technology had become more readily available to consumers.

“The spike in incidents seems to correlate with the proliferation of consumer drone technology, which is affordable and requires virtually no training to operate.”

Nesbit said: “Drone use has skyrocketed, and with that comes new potential safety concerns.

“The spike in incidents seems to correlate with the proliferation of consumer drone technology, which is affordable and requires virtually no training to operate.”

Hobbyists have been flying model aircraft safely in Canadian airspace for decades, but drones require considerably less skill to operate.

Study co-author Chris Hugenholtz said: “The potential problem with the rapid rise of drones is that the technology is now accessible to people who may not be aware of, or who choose to ignore Canadian airspace regulations.”

Transport Canada has already legislated new guidelines on drone operation and fines for those breaking the rules.

In spite of various governmental and other efforts, there is work yet to be done to safely integrate drone use in Canadian airspace, added Hugenholtz.


Image: Paul Nesbit, who led the study. Photo:courtesy of Paul Nesbit via University of Calgary.