Canadian Cops Blow Off Drone Operation Laws, Crash Their Drone Into A Landing Airplane

from the laws-must-be-for-other-people-eh dept

Someone finally hit an airplane with a drone while flying it near an airport. And of all people, it was the cops. (h/t Justin England, via Hackaday)

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating after a York regional police drone collided with an airplane approaching Buttonville Airport in Markham last week.

Police confirmed to CityNews they had deployed a Remote Piloted Vehicle (RPV), known more commonly as a drone, as part of an investigation near the airport on August 10.

While it was being operated, the drone collided with a Cessna 172 operated by Canadian Flyers International that was attempting to land. There was an instructor and student pilot on board.

No injuries were reported and the plane was able to land without any further incidents.

This may sound like an open and transparent response by the York police about its irresponsible drone piloting, but this admission about the incident at the Toronto airport was prompted by the Canadian government’s report on the incident, which was released eight days after the accident.

And the police haven’t had much else to say about its errant drone, which apparently came only inches from killing everyone on board.

Dario Matrundola, who is one of the owners of the flight school Canadian Flyers, said had the drone struck a few inches further away, both occupants could’ve been killed.

“It would have been a tragedy, it would’ve been loss of life or injuries for sure. The pilots are very lucky they were able to land the plane and avoid injuries,” said Matrundola.

Here’s Transport Canada’s summary of the accident:

The instructor for a Canadian Flyers International Inc. Cessna 172N (C-GKWL) reported that they had just turned from base leg to final for Runway 15 at Toronto/Buttonville, ON (CYKZ) and were established and stable at 1100 ASL, or about 500 AGL, when they felt a jolt that pushed them back on their seat. They thought they had hit a large bird. They proceeded to land. There was no change in configuration or power since they were about to land. When exiting the aircraft, they were shocked to see a major dent on the left underside of the engine cowling. The airbox was also bent. A few hours later, a police detective confirmed a York Regional Police drone had struck their aircraft. The aircraft suffered major damage, including a propeller strike.

The report also points out NavCanada, which oversees the country’s civil air navigation system, was not made aware of the drone flight nor the York Police’s interest in sending a drone up into the airport’s airspace to engage in an investigation.

If this had been a “civilian” drone, the public would have been informed immediately and regularly updated with progress on catching the perp. But this was a cop flight, so the cops acknowledged the flight when they could no longer deny it, and only because they were now the subject of an investigation by another government body.

It is indeed illegal to fly a drone within three nautical miles of an airport. This ban on operation can only be temporarily lifted with the explicit permission of NavCanada. Obviously this didn’t happen. The only question now should be whether the York Police is an individual or a corporation.

Fines for individuals

  • up to $1,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate

  • up to $1,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones

  • up to $1,000 for flying where you are not allowed

  • up to $3,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk

Fines for corporations

  • up to $5,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate

  • up to $5,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones

  • up to $5,000 for flying where you are not allowed

  • up to $15,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk

And don’t forget to stack the charges!

If you break more than one rule, you could receive multiple penalties.

Supposedly, everyone is just waiting for the TSB to conclude its investigation. And then there will be more waiting while the York Police engages in its own investigation. Possibly in the next few weeks or months, the news will have cycled often enough someone can fire off a press release late in the afternoon just ahead of the next convenient bank holiday.

Maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised. Maybe someone will get rung up for being completely irresponsible on top of actually violating federal law. But I doubt it. When a citizen does it, nothing can get the police to shut up about it. But when the police do it, no member of the public can get them to start talking, much less treat their own internal lawbreaking as seriously as they treat lawbreaking by outsiders.

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Comments on “Canadian Cops Blow Off Drone Operation Laws, Crash Their Drone Into A Landing Airplane”

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34 Comments
Anonymoussays:

But this was a cop flight, so the cops acknowledged the flight when they could no longer deny it, and only because they were now the subject of an investigation by another government body.

And shockingly, the silence-breaking by the cops did not occur in the process of castigating another government agency for publicly airing their crime.

Anomalous Cowherdsays:

I wonder if

NavCanada could go after the York Regional Police with some form of civil forfeiture? I know it?s Canada being discussed and not the USA, but I believe there are similar laws on the books. It would only be fitting if the aviation authorities were to deprive the constabulary of its dangerous toys before they again endanger the public with their careless deployment. The police have demonstrated their negligence. They should forfeit their remaining drones.

Anonymoussays:

I am training for my PPL license in Europe and a few things don’t add up. How is it possible that the police was flying a drone in complete disregard of air safety rules that are, like, chapter 1 of the drone license exam? Was then the operator unlicensed? But isn’t a police structure supposed to have either their own internal units trained for air operations or a liaison with some other force? The scary part is not the attempt to keep this colossal failure unreported – it’s the fact itself that there are no safeguards in the police strong enough to ensure that a drone is used, in civil airspace, by trained people. This is not a private individual making a criminal stunt for a video, this is a professional structure that is organized and paid to work in a manner that should make these things absolutely impossible, especially considering that almost everything regulating airspace has double, or triple, safeguards if you follow procedures by the letter. Some head should roll at a very high level.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

It’s pretty likely that the drone was being used in civil airspace by a trained pilot. However, accidents happen. Piloted aircraft collide, despite the fact that they shouldn’t be able to.

But unless they’re completely transparent about what caused loss of drone control or loss of pilot sanity, they have to be assumed to be 100% in the wrong on ALL levels and have the department’s drone privileges revoked until they can prove they will only use them responsibly.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

of course incidents can happen – but what cannot happen is to fly in a CTR (the controlled airspace under the radar control) or the ATZ (the area surrounding the airfield, under the tower responsability) without notifying the body responsible for the airspace, which then relies the info to all the pilots depending on the airspace configuration. while flying I get info for all sort of activities (parachutes, gliders, drones, military testing etc) because they have to be notified and coordinated at the traffic info service level. Then if the pilot is notified he can still collide, shit happens, sure. I also had a bird strike for that matters. But what is depicted here is similar to an unlicensed guy who just took the drone in a heavily trafficked airspace without annoucing what he was doing. Its like violating the ABC of flying, I cannot even explain how many regulations have been ignored. There should have been a transponder, if available the radar should have been able to see and track, etc. What they did is illegal on so many levels that it makes me wonder about the command chain in the police structure that made this possible at all in the first place.

Anonymoussays:

Drones can be jammed. Once the drones encounter a jamming signal they are programming, using GPS, to return to and land at the point where they took off.

The freuquencies that send video are just above the WiFi band.

I don’t know about Canadian laws, but drone jammers do violate US federal laws, though they could break state laws, depending on the purpose.

During the Covid lockdowns here, I know that people were using drone jammers to prevent police from catching gatherings that violated lockdown rules.

I know this because screen casting from my phone to my TV kept getting briefly cut off, and the frequencies that the two type of screen casting use are close to the frequencies that drones use.

While jamming a police drone to prevent you from being caught violating Covid lockdown rules did not violate FAA or FCC rules, it might hae violated some state laws, possibibly obstruction of justice of interfering police.

So just beware of any local state laws if lockdowns return, and you use a drone jammer to jam police drones. You will not be violating FCC or FAA rules, but you might be breaking state laws, so do be careful if you are jamming drones for that reason.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

There are FCC regulations prohibiting harmful interference with transmissions on authorized frequences, including frequences authorized for non-licensed use (ie. frequencies usually used for drones.

There is a federal law prohibiting "interfering with, or causing interference to, any radio communcations… operated by the United States government" which would cover federally operated drones.

There is another federal law prohibiting "injuring or destroying… means of communication… used or intended to be used for military or civil defense functions of the United States." Civil defense functions include basically all law enforcement, as well as fire and medical emergency services.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"There is another federal law prohibiting "injuring or destroying… means of communication… used or intended to be used for military or civil defense functions of the United States." Civil defense functions include basically all law enforcement, as well as fire and medical emergency services."

While state and federal laws regarding intferering with police would apply in jamming drones, if jamming to prevent enforcement of Covid restrictions, the jamming, by itself, is not illegal and does violate any FCC or FAA rules.

It is the purpose of the jamming that makes it violate other laws.

When it comes to jamming the wireless internet communications of tracking devices, such as an ankle bracelet, the CFAA could be applied, since you are committing a denial or service attack against the internet communications of the tracking device, but you are not violating any FCC regulations in jamming the communications of an ankle bracelet. CFAA violaton, yes FCC violaton, no

The same applies if police put a tracking device on your car. You are not violating FCC regs if you jam the internet communications of the device, but you could be charged under the CFAA since you are committing a denial of service attack against the tracker’s internet communications.

Someone who wants to jam internet communications on the childrens cellphones at dinner time would not be breaking any law, since parents do have rights to control their childrens cell phone usage.

Whether jamming is illegal in the United States depends upon the purpose for jamming.

Lostinlodossays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

See, laws and regulations in this country are not a or b.
? in certain limited exceptions use by Federal law enforcement agencies is authorized in accordance with applicable statutes?

And via delegation of authority if the right person says the right thing the right way, you end up with a local cop legally using a jammer.

naschsays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

And via delegation of authority if the right person says the right thing the right way, you end up with a local cop legally using a jammer.

Which is not at all what the AC above is claiming, namely that jamming by private parties is not against FCC regulations if:

  • preventing enforcement of Covid restrictions by police
  • jamming a police GPS tracker
  • jamming a drone, including a police drone
  • jamming a court ordered ankle bracelet
  • a parent jamming their child’s cell phone
Lostinlodossays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yep, I scrolled up and read the comments I skipped.
The op of this chain is only slightly correct.

Jamming stuff in your own house falls into private property regulations. As long as the signal doesn?t leave the confines of your property line. In all 6 directions. At least in the states where I?ve lived.

If the drone is in your private airspace willingly you have every right to bring it down? see end paragraphs.

You always own airspace above your properties (in terms of homes/building owners).
How much varies, from a few feet to a few hundred.

It?s that same airspace right that covers drones too.
It?s also why most people do t get arrested for running pre-mid-80s unshielded computers.

As long as the interference is confined within your property you have no issue.

As far as bringing down covid drones? if you?re gonna do that you better make damn sure you know exactly where your air space ends and have a way to prove it.
? and remember the FAA has overriding protections for emergency and malfunction deviations from flight path.

You don?t just go jam a drone without repercussions, and a big team of expensive lawyers.

naschsays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

As long as the signal doesn?t leave the confines of your property line. In all 6 directions.

Which means for most people it’s not going to be practical to do it legally. A signal strong enough to be effective at jamming things is probably going to emanate past your property line unless you live on a large plot of land, or you’re using it in a shielded room. In the latter case you don’t need a jammer anyway.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Another example of where FCC rules do not apply but other laws do is with states like Oklahoma and Tennessee use ERAD machines

While you would be breaking laws regarding interfering with police if you jammed his ERAD device, if a cop decided to scan your cards with it, and possibly be violating the CFAA, you would not be breaking any FCC rules doing that.

CFAA and/or interfering with police? yes. FCC rules? no.

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