A WestJet airliner had a near miss with a large drone this week.
According to police, the plane was on approach to Edmonton International Airport. Flying at 4,000 feet — about 1.2 kilometres above the ground — the pilots spotted the drone. Described as “pallet-sized,” it was flying off their left wing.
Scott Pattison, a spokesperson for the Edmonton Police Service, told CBC News that someone wasn’t acting responsibly and could have caused “an extreme disaster.”
Furthermore, Pattison said that a drone could cause significant damage to the plane. A drone could collide with the cockpit, killing or injuring the pilots. Additionally, the drone could bring down the plane by getting caught in the turbine.
The main issue here is that the drone violated 90 metre maximum height imposed by Transport Canada — about 300 feet.
Along with that rule, Transport Canada has a number of guidelines around drones. Furthermore, these rules prevent incidents like this one and worse. Unfortunately, not everyone follows these guidelines.
Transport Canada Guidelines
The follow guidelines apply to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as recreational drones. UAVs must, among other restrictions:
- Fly no higher than 90 metres above the ground
- Keep at least 30 metres away from vehicles, vessels or members of the public
- Keep at least 5.6 kilometres from airports
- Fly within 500 metres and remain within sight of the operator
For a complete list of rules and guidelines, visit Transport Canada’s website.
Additionally, UAV operators who put an aircraft at risk, fly drones where nor permitted, and/or endanger anyone’s safety could be fined as much as $25,000. UAV operators could see jail time as well.
Police are still investigating the incident and have asked anyone with information to call Edmonton police or Crime Stoppers.