Careful, Calgary: Drones Can Lead to Criminal Charges

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In case you haven't heard, drones—remote-controlled (and sometimes self-controlled) flying robots—are the next big thing. Officially called Unmanned Air vehicles or UAVs, drones are already used in many military applications and are now finding their way into other industries and into the hands of consumers.

More than a few Calgarians have been caught up in the excitement, and one young man in Calgary has also found himself caught up in a criminal defence case. His story should be taken as a word of caution for others.

The problem in this case is that, according to Calgary Police, the accused was flying his drone in the flight path of a runway at Calgary International Airport. He was arrested during a traffic stop while trying to drive away from the area, and is being charged with interfering with a navigation facility to endanger the safety of aircraft.

According to Sgt. Colin Foster of the Calgary Police Service’s Collision Reconstruction Unit, this is the first time this charge has been laid against a Calgary civilian.

"I am aware that there have been charges in Ontario, in Vancouver, now whether or not those are against the criminal code or local legislation, I don’t know, but certainly in this instance, this is the first time in Calgary that we have charged anybody under the criminal code for operating a UAV.,' said Foster.

Sgt. Foster says it is an offence to fly any vehicle within five nautical miles—approximately nine kilometers—of the Calgary International Airport. It's also important to note that the law is still evolving in this area, and new regulations could soon be passed.

Drone enthusiasts of Calgary, beware.

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