Hello, I’m new here but not new to drones.
We are a small Canadian company on the bleeding edge, as usual, using drones to map the landscape of commercial and residential sites in preparation for irrigation CAD design, then install. The amount of time we save and the accuracy we get vs. a traditional measurement whether by laser or measuring wheel is the difference between a horse and cart vs. the automobile.
The problem we are having is that although microdrones are permitted to fly ANYWHERE in Canada, and I mean ANYWHERE, we are restricted by DJI from taking off in what they call a “RESTRICTED” zone. We have been battling them for 5 months and have acquired most of the information I need, but I am wondering if anyone knows a good drone lawyer here in Canada. Why? Because DJI aren’t just non compliant with the law, they are breaking it every time they “interfere with an aircraft in flight”. For those of you who are not aware, a drone is considered an “aircraft”, regardless of it’s size, and in the few cases where our drone was airborne and the flight was interrupted by DJI remotely, telling us “landing in 90 seconds”, they have without a doubt broken the law – an extremely serious federal violation.
Now I’m here to start an argument about where we can or cannot fly. I have in my possession 3 emails from Transport Canada telling us we can fly wherever we want (excepting Class F which is essentially irrelevant because that airspace is normally above 2000’). I have a recorded call with the manager of RPAS Canada who explicitly stated we can “land 5 microdrones at the end of the runway” if we wanted to. Of course we don’t do that, but we could, yes Virginia even though it’s private property, and even though it’s an airport and a really dumb thing to do, it is LEGAL. This has been made abundantly clear over the last half year, and I see all kinds of things to the contrary written all over the place, but it’s not true. The liberty the microdrone has is ridiculous and scary, but for the responsible operator, it’s also just common sense.
The problem we have is DJI won’t unlock a “RESTRICTED” zone without authorization from NAV Canada, and NAV Canada actually don’t have jurisdiction to authorize any microdrone, since they are essentially totally unregulated. NAV Canada are sitting on their hands because they aren’t dumb and won’t engage with a Chinese company breaking the law left right and center, but we are left in limbo, losing money by being unable to get authorization to take off by someone we can’t even legally get it from (I’ve already confirmed this rudimentary fact with our lawyer – but he’s not a drone expert). NAV Canada get their authority from a different Act and they can intervene if someone was throwing rocks at an airplane. But we aren’t throwing rocks, and yet they won’t budge.
It took us months to figure out what the heck was going on, and after dozens of iterations with DJI and NAV Canada and Transport Canada, we conclude that we’re stuck in no mans land / between a rock and a hard place.