I call the meeting to order.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, meeting number 35, we are studying unmanned aerial vehicle regulations.
Witnesses, welcome to our committee. I'm glad to see that everybody's here.
A voice: Not quite. EXO Tactik is caught in traffic.
The Chair: One set of witnesses is caught in traffic. I guess they're not using a drone, or they would have been here on time.
We will start with who we have right now. We have Ian Glenn, chief executive officer for ING Robotic Aviation Inc., and Mark Aruja, chairman of the board of Unmanned Systems Canada.
Gentlemen, welcome. Thank you for providing us with some important comments on a fledgling industry in this country and around the world.
Mr. Aruja, you have the floor.
Madam Chair, I wish to extend my appreciation to the committee for the invitation to appear as a witness.
Unmanned Systems Canada is a national not-for-profit association established in 2003. With 500 members, we represent the Canadian unmanned systems community. We have been proactively engaged with Transport Canada since 2006, a decade ago, regarding the development of UAV regulations. We have co-chaired the UAV systems program design working group with Transport Canada since its inception in 2010, which has resulted in the guidance material used today by industry and regulators.
The current visual line of sight practices, honed over five years of commercial operations, are the basis of what is being proposed as amended regulations with Canada Gazette part I notification expected by mid-2017.
From an industry association's perspective, I will not address the regulations themselves, but rather how they will be implemented. Our critical concern is business continuity.
Under the current regulations, UAV operations are approved by means of a special flight operations certificate, SFOC, whereby an operator in their application for that SFOC describes how the risks of their operation are mitigated. A decade ago, the issue was the lack of guidance to industry and the regulator on how an application should be made by industry for an SFOC, how the regulator might approve an application, and the business risk associated with the lack of an approval process.
Since then, the working group results, our association's visual line of sight best practices, improved Transport Canada staff instructions, and increasingly reliable and affordable equipment, coupled with major business opportunities, have resulted in the dramatic growth of SFOC approvals.
Let's talk about business continuity. In 2011 about 100 SFOCs were approved by Transport Canada. Last year that number was 2,480, and we've passed the 4,000 mark as of this year. There are now 1,000 UAS-related businesses in Canada. This is why business continuity is at the forefront of our concerns. These companies invest in intellectual capital, equipment, training, marketing and sales to meet the requirements of the regulator and to develop commercially viable businesses.
UAS technology applied in areas as diverse as the film industry, construction, and precision agriculture have resulted in better, safer, and cheaper business practices. These results are reflected in an increase in investment dollars flowing to the industry. Regulatory certainty is an important criterion for investors to determine the risk to their investment. Therefore, we are very pleased that Canada is moving ahead toward a regulatory structure.
The business continuity risk we're discussing here has two aspects. One is the transition to the regulations and the second one is the capacity risk at Transport Canada. The two are linked.
With regard to the transition, the regulations are going to address three fundamental areas and accords with how the regulations are structured: knowledge requirements, operating procedures, and equipment.
Companies have invested heavily to build their businesses, and therefore it is critical to their business continuity that the transition to the proposed regulations take into account a business means test reflected in an enabling transition plan. Companies with approved SFOCs should see no change in their operations other than minor adjustments. However, we have concerns, such as how UAV equipment requirements will be defined. Part of the solution will be grandfathering, which recognizes investments made, ongoing business obligations, and proven expertise.
Let's turn to capacity risk at Transport Canada. You may be surprised to learn that there are only two people in the department who are dedicated to UAS regulations. This situation poses the most significant risk to Canadian industry. Not only is the transition to the proposed regulations at risk, but there is also a growing backlog of issues critical to the future of the industry.
We are one of the most innovative industries in Canada, so visioning is part of our DNA. In October our association published “Beyond Visual Line of Sight Best Practices” to enable the industry to take the next critical step. The business case for BVLOS operations needs to be built, just as we have done with visual line of sight operations to capture the immense economic potential.
A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report estimated that the global accessible market for UAS operations is $127 billion. In sectors ranging from mining to forestry, environmental, pipeline and railway monitoring, to precision agriculture, we have the geography and the expertise to take our experience to the global market.
The lack of capacity at Transport Canada has directly impacted Canadian businesses by a lack of priority on BVLOS operations which is the Holy Grail of the industry in which we're in a global competition.
Canada is a world leader in developing the UAS industry. Unfortunately, failing comparable investment by other nations such as the U.S., Australia, and the various countries in Europe, we are now falling behind. Therefore, we need accelerated government action and investment to ensure that our industry continues to innovate and flourish. We encourage government to examine the broad economic and social implications of this industry, and how other departments can provide resources beyond just those implicated in a regulatory development.
In summary, we are pleased UAS regulations for visual line of sight are being proposed. However, we need a thoughtful implementation strategy to enable Canadians to establish a global market share with this technology, with accelerated government investment and action that is responsive to market realities.
Good morning. I'm Ian Glenn, CEO of ING Robotic Aviation.
This is my 20th year in the UAV business. In 1996, the Canadian Army entrusted me with their UAV program, and I've been engaged with UAVs since then. I've also been engaged with Transport Canada since then. This is the year when I'm looking for Transport Canada to give me the gold watch.
We have not moved forward far enough fast enough. Mark's done a great job of illustrating where we stand today. Where we stand today is, we have failed to keep up with the rest of the world. We were leading, and due to resourcing and focus of Transport Canada on this sector, we have failed to the point where companies are now not looking to Canada but to the U.S. to move their businesses.
That said, there is a way forward for Canada in particular. The first slide I show you is really what the trillion-dollar question is here. It's not about the unmanned aircraft industry. It's about Canada's inability to safely and effectively move product to tidewater. This is a place where robotic aircraft have a great place to play where we can demonstrate to the world that we are safe and effective in reducing greenhouse gases in moving our products to the world.
Most of these products actually transition through first nations lands. I'm one of the first to have taught first nations how to safely fly UAVs. There's a great opportunity in Canada for us to move forward.
On the second slide, which is the one with the picture of the plane and the UAV, there is a technology available today that will address part, if not all, of the challenges faced by Transport Canada and the country. That's a little technology called a transponder, and they are tiny little devices today. Manned aviation uses this type of technology all the time. This is ICAO-approved technology for big planes. We find in 2016 that this is now small and useable technology that every drone could be equipped with.
What does that mean to us? If we think of last week, we had Porter thinking they saw a drone—probably a weather balloon—just because of where it was, but they didn't know. Our airline pilots are spooked by the whole drone phenomenon. There are more unmanned aircraft flying in Canada today than manned aircraft. By Christmas this year, there will be two and a half million drones flying in North America. Remember, we only have 33,000 registered aircraft in Canada. There's a technology that will allow us to work with this. I call this little device, of which there are many manufacturers, the seat belt of 2016. How do we effectively let everyone know where drones are? That's the point I would make.
I've been on every CARAC working committee for 20 years. There are three things we need to do as a country to move this forward rapidly.
Number one, if you're going to fly beyond visual line of sight—and this is where the money is; this is the reason we come to work—we have a thing called a compliant operator. That means you look, smell, and taste like an aviation company, and so you have to have all the safety management processes, and you have all of those things you have to do. If you just go to Best Buy and pick up a drone, you have a lot to learn, and that's important.
Number two, we need compliance systems. We have developed all of those regulations through the CARAC process that basically say, “You look and work like an aviation asset, an aircraft.” That's important.
Number three, we need to tell each other where we are. A “no drones” sign on the fence at the airport isn't cutting it. You know, the education program.... You can tweet all day long; it doesn't really cut it. We need to use a bit of technology and enforce it, not just for unmanned aviation, but for manned aviation as well, and the expense is not high.
The fourth slide speaks to a thought I have about how we can do this and keep everybody happy, because we're Canadians. Most of the work that we want to do in Canada is not over the GTA or downtown Ottawa; it's out over the woods.
I have a team up past Cochrane, Timmins, flying magnetometer surveys for De Beers today, in the snow. That's where we need to be flying. I could be much more cost-effective, much more efficient, if I were able to operate beyond visual line of sight. If every aircraft in Canada had this technology, that would be a great risk reduction exercise.
The origins of ADS-B were that, in 1999, Alaska adopted it. They immediately saw a 78% decrease in man-on-man accidents. It's a great technology.
Finally, we have this ability today, technologically, to move forward. I have certainly made the suggestion that for our manned aviation folks who prefer not to spend money, they're going to buy it anyway. In the U.S., in two years or three years they're going to have to have this technology to fly down to Fort Lauderdale. What they could do is perhaps make it a tax credit. We're talking about a couple of thousand bucks for equipage.
Good technology recognized in the world would change the equation for Canada and all of our citizens. In particular, when we think of the great white north, wouldn't it be wonderful if our first nations, for instance, who are objecting to moving product to tidewater, had the ability to have high-tech jobs in their own communities to help us ensure that we're moving product well?
Thank you very much.
Stéphane Bouvier and I are representing Support aérien EXO Tactik this morning.
Our company was launched in February 2014 to provide air support service with drones for public safety purposes. We are operators, we pilot the aircraft to help police officers, firefighters and civil emergency responders to obtain live aerial images of the intervention sites. We therefore help them make better decisions faster, optimize their operations to save more lives, and protect those who often risk their lives to protect us.
The first months of operation were a bit more challenging, as the current process to obtain a flight certificate does not apply to emergency operations. There are many initial delays before a flight certificate can be obtained. Unfortunately, fires don't wait for Transport Canada. After doing a lot of work, we managed to get a permanent special flight operations certificate. This has been an essential support to our operations.
Last year, in 2015, we also submitted a brief to the Canadian Aviation Regulatory Advisory Council, as part of the notice of proposed amendments for unmanned aerial vehicles.
My colleague wanted to go over the history of drones. So I'll do it in his place.
It will soon be the 100th anniversary of the creation of drones. In fact, they were already active during World War I. At that time, drone operations were mainly military, which has been the case until recently. Since the 2010s, the technology has become much more accessible to consumers and the general public.
The devices come with GPS. The devices are also miniaturized, like the transponders that Mr. Glenn showed you. Everything has become smaller, much more accessible, less expensive and much easier to fly. The batteries have also become much more accessible.
In 2013, DJI launched a drone called the Phantom. We'll bring one into the room in a second. It's like the model T for cars. It is the first accessible model: it is easy to operate for consumers and the general public. It has revolutionized the world of drones. That's when the popularity of drones exploded.
Today, there are more and more drones. That's when things become more problematic, as was the case in the early days of the automobile. One day, there were too many cars and it was necessary to regulate the traffic, to install traffic lights and to introduce the seat belt.
That's the stage we are at with the drones. These devices are here to stay. Sales will not drop by next Christmas; they will continue to grow.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Thank you very much to the three of you for your presentations, which have shed a lot of light on the current situation. The three submissions were very different.
In response to those three presentations, my first question is for you, Mr. Aruja.
We have just heard Mr. Glenn talk about the seat belt. In the introduction to your presentation, you talked about a transition period for the vehicles, so that the industry does not experience any kind of price shock, which would kill the momentum that is already there.
Previously, we have heard from the representatives of pilots, those other users of the sky. They all felt that transponders were absolutely essential.
What is the industry's position on the use of transponders for drones?
Thank you very much for that question.
First, we have to safely coexist in that airspace. Canada has an enviable safety record. The industry fully understands that is a core business risk we need to address.
I would conclude that what Ian has shown you in terms of that device—it's called an ADS-B transponder—is exactly the association's position that we need some form of government encouragement. It could be a tax credit. It could be some mechanism to get this adopted.
To put it very simply, it's like your cellphone. It sends out a signal, and says,“Here's who I am; here's where I am.” The really sophisticated system says, “Here's where I'm going.” This is now ubiquitous technology out there. That is exactly the type of technology that addresses the concerns of those who occupy the airspace, and gives us the technology we can take anywhere in the world.
That's a good question. That's a proposal that's out there now. There is this difficulty. As we have accelerated this industry to the point we are today, how do we make that transition business-friendly? If in the U.S. this becomes mandatory.... When Alaska adopted it, the FAA actually paid for all of those transponders, and had an 80% reduction in their accident rate.
I believe there is a role for the federal government, as the sole regulator with regard to safety in the airspace, to put incentives in place to allow those things to happen. There are incentives for the adoption of electric vehicles and many other technologies.
I think the government has a legitimate role, not to pay the freight, but to put encouragement out there, most importantly, to put those kinds of requirements out there so we can underwrite the safety of operating in that airspace. There's an urgency to doing this, and mechanisms such as financial incentives, even over a short period of time, accelerate that sense of urgency.
Our permanent certificate gives us permission to conduct emergency operations without having to reapply each time. Since we have obtained it, we have seen great improvement in our operating procedures. This has made the process much easier. Before we obtained this permanent certificate, which is valid for highly supervised and very restricted operations, the delays for us to receive our flying certificates were over one month. In addition, our operations were relatively easy to evaluate. In the last few months, this summer, the delays were easily between two to three months in Quebec for operators to receive their certificates.
As a result, a number of operators were no longer asking for a certificate and going ahead with the operation without being certified. Others lost a lot of contracts because of those major delays.
You are asking for my opinion and that of our company on what could be improved to speed up the process. It is not necessarily a matter of hiring more staff to process certificate requests faster, but rather about changing the entire process to an extent.
Right now, Transport Canada and the Canadian Aviation Regulatory Advisory Council are putting in place draft regulations that would provide for operating standards equivalent to those for automobiles or for aircraft.
You do not need to apply for a licence before you drive a car. When you are 16 years old, you take driving lessons and then you get your licence. You have rules to follow. You can drive your car in compliance with the rules of the road. If you do not follow them, you are punished. The equivalent for drones could greatly improve the process.
Most of the devices on the market, including the Phantom I mentioned, still weigh several kilograms. In addition, there are no safety features for those devices. For example, the device has only four motors. Drone motors are sort of like light bulbs: they can burn out very easily. Well, if you lose a motor, it's over, the device falls straight to the ground.
There have been many cases in which control of the devices was lost, which has resulted in many injuries all over the world. There was a case this fall in Beloeil, Quebec. There are still issues. The woman who was injured by the device had to be hospitalized and she is now suing the operator of the drone.
In addition, it is increasingly easy to fly drones. Less and less knowledge or attention is needed to fly those vehicles. They cost less, so people are taking more risks operating them. In the end, they take them out of the box, they push the power button, they start the motor and they fly the aircraft willy-nilly. They do not pay attention.
There are other risks, such as the batteries in these devices. The lithium polymer batteries are the same as the ones for the Galaxy Note 7 phones, which are now banned on planes, but they are bigger.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Distinguished guests, thank you for being with us this morning.
I will continue to talk about safety, because that's one of the things I wonder about, being a neophyte to this whole industry.
We heard from representatives of pilots who have expressed major concerns.
Mr. Glenn, I'd like to come back to this picture, because it stops exactly where my question begins. If each drone was equipped with the transponder you are proposing, who would be doing what when the two flying objects met? Someone who is not really familiar with the industry could assume that the pilot who is flying the aircraft in the visual line of sight may react more easily. However, if you are controlling a drone remotely and you don't see what is happening, who has to do what in that kind of situation?
The transponder pops up on your screen. Both the pilot and the pilot in command of the unmanned aircraft see each other at ranges greater than 10 kilometres. They both have the same responsibilities to avoid each other. It's like laws of the sea: you always go right. They're the same rules in the sky.
A pilot in command is a pilot in command whether you have a toy you buy at Best Buy or you're the 747 pilot. You have the same responsibilities, and you need to have the same knowledge set. When you see another aircraft in the sky, it's your responsibility to avoid.
We say all unmanned aircraft avoid all manned aircraft, which is true, but both have the responsibility. The issue with the world today is, we can only make a manned aircraft so small because we put people in it, the 95 percentile person. That's why a Cessna is the size it is.
With drones, they're very small, and it's really hard to see them. Both pilots in command have the requirement to avoid each other. That's why you saw the Porter pilots over Lake Ontario take emergency action. They thought they saw something, which they did. What it was, we don't know, but they avoided that incident. The role of the transponder is to allow both pilots in command to see each other much sooner. It doesn't become a drama then. It's simply to avoid each other.
My next question is for Ms. Riopel-Bouvier.
In your theatres of operations, fire, for instance, must mean a number of gawkers who come to the scene. I imagine you operate visual line of sight flights, since you are very close to the scene. In a plume of smoke, however, I imagine you can also lose sight of your own drone.
Do your drones have safety features such as preventing one of the motors from stopping and the batteries from running out, or enabling the devices to connect to a second system? Do your drones have different safety features than can be purchased over the counter?
Yes. We buy our vehicles from manufacturers. Then we need to add several safety features or make changes to the vehicles to make them safer.
Our most commonly used vehicle right now has eight motors. So, as you mentioned, even if a motor fails, we could ultimately complete the mission and have a normal landing. Also, the batteries are connected in parallel, in case one of the two fails. In short, we do have several safety features.
We also have a number of safety procedures. For example, it is the pilot's responsibility to keep the aircraft in line of sight, avoid the plume of smoke as much as possible and fly with the back to the wind precisely to stay out of the smoke.
You were talking about onlookers. When there are operations as a result of a fire or anything else, it does attract a lot of attention. However, there are teams of policemen, firefighters and paramedics who establish security perimeters precisely to ensure that bystanders do not come too close to the fire scene.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Sikand.
I have to say that I do understand and respect as well as appreciate some of the good things the industry is going to provide society in general. It's exciting, quite frankly, but there are some challenges as well. I want to be very clear about that. Those challenges are primarily around public security and public privacy. Not only do I want to question you on that, but I also want to give you my opinion with respect to my expectations of you, as a representative of the industry—not of government; I want to be clear about that—and with that, trying to strike that balance between economy, which is what you're in the business to be and do and obviously prosper, and your responsibility with your product with respect to public safety and public privacy.
On many occasions throughout your presentations, you mentioned the expertise that you do have. With your expertise, what thoughts have you given to ensuring proactive—and I want to emphasize the word proactive. We can have all the regulations we want. We can have all the policing we want, but that's reactive. The incident has already happened. Let's talk about being proactive so the incident doesn't happen.
What thoughts have you given towards being proactive when it comes to public safety and public privacy?
That's a great question.
We initiated the conversations almost a decade ago with the Privacy Commissioner not only federally, but provincially. Ann Cavoukian, the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, wrote a seminal piece called “Privacy by Design”. That was the forerunner to how you build geofencing technology in there, so that the technology doesn't allow you to do things that would impact on privacy or those kinds of issues. We engaged early and proactively, she said.
We represent the professional industry. Those are seminal issues for us, because if we don't have social licence to operate, then we'll fail our businesses. We have in our best practices that when you operate, you wear a vest that's visible that says who you are. If you're operating near someone's property, before you go and operate, you go and talk to those folks and tell them what you're going to be doing. Give them your business card if they have any concerns. That is the way the industry operates.
There is a real concern on the recreational side, for sure. The differentiation between normal aircraft and drones, quite frankly, is they have a camera on them.
You did get testimony on Tuesday from a privacy lawyer that the camera on these recreational drones has a really wide field of view. In fact, most of them have lower performance than what's in your cellphone. The reality of what you can actually do is that you can't do much. There's a perception out there and that is the social licence. To that end, we as an industry have an extremely proactive understanding that this is an issue that we have to address and we believe we've done so.
Again, I want to be clear, we're talking about being reactive. That's what you're suggesting with vests and lines of sight. That's all reactive, but frankly, again to be clear, I'm not concerned about that because it's after the fact. The incident has already happened.
What I'm getting at is how we can be proactive, and what technology the industry has thought about. Let's face it. The market will mature only at the rate of your technology—not government technology, but your technology—that will protect public privacy and ensure safety.
When we look at the attempt to be proactive so the incidents don't happen, how far has industry gone to ensure that, and what products may become available to ensure that public privacy as well as public safety?
Thank you very much, Mr. Badawey. Your time is up.
I have to acknowledge that we also have the president of EXO Tactik Air Support, Stéphane Bouvier, who has joined us a bit late because of traffic issues and so on.
Your colleague has handled it very well.
I have to move on to Mr. Rayes, but I acknowledge that Mr. Bouvier has brought a UAV and put it on the table so that we can look at it when we switch witnesses, if you like, or beforehand discreetly, if you prefer.
We'll start with Mr. Rayes, for six minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I saw that you had your hand up and I felt that you wanted to react to the previous comments. I have a question for you and then I will let you continue with the subject. If there are things that you want to add, I will give you the rest of my time to do so, since my colleague who had the floor before me asked essentially the same questions that I find very interesting and wanted to ask you too.
Having said that, I do not quite agree with my predecessor’s comments. I believe that the industry and government have a common responsibility to establish clear rules. I am convinced that this technology is here to stay. In any case, evolution cannot be stopped. The industry is clearly going to keep adapting. I don’t want the government to pay. Mr. Berthold emphasized that just now. The industry can do its work itself, without anyone needing to interfere in its business.
My question is about all the technologies you were talking about, like the transponder. I’d like to have your opinion about it. You can both answer first, then you can continue later.
The government has just passed legislation about rearview cameras, for the same safety reasons as it did for airbags. They will now be mandatory. The industry will adapt and will include the technology for everyone. I think that we should not even question it. All the most recent safety technologies should be included. Airbags should even be installed on all sides. Why should it just be the richest among us who can afford safety systems of that kind? They should be mandatory and the costs should be spread out through the entire system.
As a basic step, could we require companies to install those safety systems in all new drones on the market, as well as putting regulations in place that would require those who already have them to go and get those safety systems? It would automatically result in lower costs, in greater access to the new safety systems, and in a greater assurance of safety.
With other regulations, we could require users to take training in the rules of proper use, in the same spirit as driver training courses, for example.
I would first like to hear both of your opinions.
Actually, today, we use a number of technologies to make the safety of the vehicles more reliable. One of the principles is redundancy. In aviation, redundancy as a concept is common. Passenger aircraft have up to two redundancies for each system in use.
For example, the vehicle you can see here is much larger. One of the reasons explaining its larger size is that everything inside is redundant. Redundancy is the fact that all systems are duplicated. So, if one system fails, another takes its place.
The vehicle you see here. the little Phantom 4, has no redundancy. At the moment, it has four motors. If one motor or one propeller gives out, the vehicle fails and crashes.
So redundancy is one of the characteristics of this kind of vehicle.
In terms of passive and active safety, there are parachute system that—
Unfortunately, I have to interrupt you. Your colleague explained all that earlier.
What I would like to know is whether, in your opinion, we could require companies to install those redundancy systems, those security systems, in these vehicles. We are not experts here, but we can imagine that it might be possible. Why not have regulations to require them to be already included in the vehicles in the same way that the government already has regulations for airbags and seatbelts, and that it intends to have for rearview cameras?
The government's role is to make legislation and it is the private sector's role to conform and to come up with technologies to make that happen if it wants products to appear on the market. Otherwise, they would be illegal, in which case, steps would be taken, of course.
Madam Chair, members of Parliament, distinguished guests, my name is Tony Di Benedetto. I am the CEO of Drone Delivery Canada.
Let me begin by thanking all of you for the opportunity to appear before the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. We really are at the cusp of an industry that holds out so much promise. I am encouraged that the government is determined to hear from industry experts as it works to ensure that it gets things right when it comes to regulating unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.
Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear or read something about drones. Sometimes it’s a story that reminds us of why it is so important to make sure we chart a responsible path forward that ensures the safety and security for all of us. In this case it was the news of a Porter flight’s encounter with an object that may have been a drone about 50 kilometres out from Billy Bishop Airport.
Then there are stories that remind of us of the huge potential this technology holds out, like last week’s story on the CBC that looked at how a drone outfitted with defibrillators could cut response times and increase survival rates during a heart attack. To put that into perspective, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada estimates that approximately 40,000 Canadians suffer cardiac arrest each year. When the heart stops beating, the chance of survival drops 7% to 10% for every minute a defibrillator doesn't deliver a life-saving electrical shock to restart the heart.
A University of Toronto computer science engineer has determined that strategically placed drones carrying defibrillators could beat ambulances to the scene by many minutes, and in some cases cut response times in half, helping many people survive. That’s just one application.
The sky is literally the limit when it comes to the various applications this technology holds out, everything from drones for agricultural use, mapping, exploration, disaster recovery, urban planning, security services, architecture, and engineering, not to mention the extent to which this technology will be a game-changer when it comes to just-in-time delivery and the management of logistics around supply chains.
As the technology and innovation advances, the list goes on and on. That’s what excites us at Drone Delivery Canada.
Since 2014, we have been working with government and municipalities to explore the potential of drones in delivering a robust logistics platform. We’re proud to say we were the first to market, and in a short time we have assembled some of the leading minds in this country, leading researchers and professors in aerospace studies, to develop a commercial logistics platform that can meet government and commercial needs in rural and remote parts of this country. For example, we’re working with the City of Vaughan, the first city in Canada to undertake a pilot program. Together we’re looking at how drones can provide these logistics services to the city.
We are also excited about the potential this technology holds out for Canada’s northern communities. We are busy at work on a pilot project that is looking at these communities, and seeing how drones can provide a safe and reliable way to deliver much needed services like just-in-time medicines and medical supplies.
We’re also looking at opportunities to partner with Canada’s indigenous communities and employ their youth. Like a number of countries around the world, we, too, are looking at how Drone Delivery Canada can support Canada Post, in this case, around mail service in northern communities, helping to reduce costs, adding efficiencies, and taking greenhouse gas-emitting trucks off the road.
All of us in this room can see the potential. The challenge is in making sure that this industry rolls out in a way that taps into this great potential, while at the same time ensuring it is done in a way that protects all of us, while at the same time addressing the legal and ethical issues.
As industry leaders, we want to continue to be part of that process working alongside government to make sure that Canada is seen as a leader when it comes to this policy development around new and emerging technologies.
The future is here. Right now government policies and regulations are lagging behind the progress that is being made by industry. The global drone market continues to attract investments, and efforts to advance this technology are being made in leaps and bounds.
Let’s join forces and work together. We can’t continue to operate in a regulatory, legal and ethical vacuum. The possibilities are unlimited, but like all potential, it needs to be harnessed and regulated in a way that it is in the best interests of all us.
Thank you again for your time. I look forward to being part of the policies that will be a model for the rest of the world.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and committee members for the opportunity to appear today.
As a proud Canadian and a small business owner, I'm very excited about the potential for unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, both in Canada and globally. I look forward to sharing my thoughts and insights on how Canadians can benefit from this technology and harness its potential for both social and economic benefit.
In a world with too many industry-specific acronyms, I'm going to use “drone” in place of “UAV” for the purpose of today's discussion.
How do we increase the confidence of the Canadian public in the safety and viability of drone operation? I ask this question because I believe we cannot realize the economic potential of drone operation if the Canadian public doesn't become more comfortable with drones, or more specifically with drone operators and their credentials.
For the past 15 years, Fresh Air Educators, a company with global headquarters in Ottawa, has been at the forefront of online education and innovation in the outdoor recreation field. Our leadership began in power boat safety courses through a very successful partnership with Transport Canada to provide the federal pleasure craft operator card program, and with the United States Coast Guard to deliver the state specific boater education card programs, both commonly referred to as a boat licence.
Building on that leadership, Fresh Air Educators has worked to bring innovations from online boating education to other outdoor activities, such as hunting and firearms, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and sailing. Establishing partnerships with dozens of federal, provincial, and state agencies to make effective, engaging online education available to their residents, Fresh Air Educators has certified more than two million outdoor enthusiasts through our 125 online courses delivered on behalf of more than 50 government agencies in Canada, the United States, and Australia.
Most recently, through our involvement with the Small UAV Coalition in Washington, D.C., we have been working with experts in the field of drones to leverage online training as a key tool for providing safety and ethics training to the millions of new recreational and commercial drone operators in North America.
It's difficult to get definitive sales data for this industry in Canada to quantify the opportunity. However, by comparison, the U.S. is expected to sell more than two million drones in 2016, the fourth year in a row in which sales have doubled. Sales are expected to reach 10 million drones by 2020, granted commercial drones are expected to provide much of that additional growth.
Major global drone manufacturers have confided that Canada is a very significant market. Given our geography, it should surprise no one in this room that drone ownership in Canada is growing at a similar rate. We need to capitalize on the economic opportunity that drones provide both to Canadian citizens and to small businesses. We must ensure that certification and training is done properly to ensure safe and ethical operation while increasing public confidence in drones.
Canada was once viewed as perhaps the most drone forward country in the world, and had a huge head start on many countries in terms of the legal ability to operate drones for commercial purposes. As such, Canadian companies have been able to grow their businesses nationally and to export their skills and expertise globally.
Moreover, Canada has been able to attract significant U.S. investment for drone testing and training, but that head start has been completely wiped out in the last several months. The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States enacted new streamlined drone regulations in 2016 that have paved the way for commercial drone operation in the United States. Canada must respond if we hope to remain relevant in this growing, international industry.
Luckily, Transport Canada has some thoughtful, well-researched updates to the current drone regulations. These updated regulations include three critical elements, namely, registration, education, and certification. Registration provides accountability, but let's not stop there. Let's ensure that registration leads to education. After you register your drone, we'll teach you how to operate it safely, legally, and ethically. Moreover, let's work with commercial operators to ensure that they have the proper training needed to secure the necessary legal certification and requisite skills to succeed in their field.
These new drone regulations present a tremendous opportunity for Canada to regain a position of leadership on this issue on a global scale. Allow me to specifically address four key ingredients in the proposed regulations where we believe the details matter most.
First is registration. We will increase compliance if we can protect the registrant's personal information and avoid unnecessary fees.
Second is interactive, engaging education for all operators. Most high-profile drone incidents are simply caused by a lack of education and information for safety and regulatory requirements. There is no malice. It is pure ignorance. Let's also give all operators a strong ethical foundation so they can be proper stewards for drone technology. This is also the group that will become future commercial operators. Let's pave that path.
Third is in-person testing. While the FAA's new part 107 rule is much more streamlined than the previous 333 exemption process, it is needlessly cumbersome for commercial operators to travel to one of 700 testing centres to take a knowledge test that can easily be administered online. Moreover, that in-person test costs $150, whereas online testing can be much more affordable.
Fourth is curriculum. It is very easy for this kind of curriculum to include aeronautical knowledge that is more appropriate for airline pilots than drone pilots. Let's ensure the curriculum and testing is specific to the activity, with topics and language that are relevant to the audience. Our 15-year track record with Transport Canada's office of boating safety has Fresh Air Educators well positioned to provide Canadians the online training and certification needed to ensure public confidence in drones.
I thank you for your time. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Good morning, and thank you very much, Madam Chair and committee members. You should have my notes in a little package in front of you as to what the UAS CE is all about, but I'll present it here as well.
I'm pleased to present this morning and I would like to thank you very much for this opportunity. My name is Marc Moffat. I'm the director general of the UAS CE, located in Alma, Quebec, and co-located with 3 Wing Bagotville. I've also had the pleasure of serving with the military for 20 years in the air force.
First off, let me provide a few words on our organization and what we have accomplished to date in support of the Canadian UAS community. Established in 2011, the UAS CE, or Centre d'excellence sur les drones, has been committed to support of the UAS community and its development. The site has been supported by the City of Alma and its council.
The UAS CE is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop a centre of expertise, services in innovation and design, applications, and UAS operation, but most specifically to support the safe integration of UAS in our Canadian airspace.
The City of Alma has the humble pretension to state that the UAS CE test site was established even before the Federal Aviation Administration created the six American sites.
The UAS CE has more recently been highlighted in the updated Quebec aerospace strategy, 2016-26. The Quebec government has agreed to invest in two specific areas. First, the UAS CE will be heading the establishment of a UAV cluster that will be mandated to provide some strategic orientation to the Quebec aerospace sector. Second, the government has agreed to invest $800,000 in infrastructure for the establishment of a pre-qualification and training site. This pre-qualification test site represents a potential investment of $2.5 million. It could then become one of its kind in North America.
Concerning operations, infrastructure, and airspace, the UAS CE's location and co-operation with 3 Wing Bagotville has made it possible to conduct, for example, medium altitude, long endurance, or MALE, UAS operations in segregated and non-segregated airspace. We have supported the operation of a 45-foot wingspan UAV, flying more than 160 kilometres from the Alma airport at altitudes over 15,000 feet.
More recently, Transport Canada has approved the establishment of eight areas of class F restricted airspace to conduct UAV operations. Most specifically, these zones are critical to the beyond visual line of sight operations. These operations represent the next critical step for UAS development in Canada.
The UAS CE is also the co-founder of the International Consortium of Aeronautical Test Sites, or ICATS. The first international organization of its kind, the consortium supports the industry by enabling the development and testing of UAVs. ICATS was created to share information between the members on operational safety, flight regulations, and when allowed to do so, actual operational experience.
The UAS CE and its approximately 20 members, which are from universities and colleges and private industry, have developed very specific and exclusive expertise. The centre has participated in multiple round table discussions, conferences, and other events related to the sector and would like to offer the following observations.
On regulation development, the proposed regulations for the UAS under 25 kilograms within line of sight profile appear to provide the appropriate framework and have been supported by the community at large. However, the timelines have continued to slip to the right and have, in my opinion, resulted in numerous illegal operations, since the SFOC process has been too slow to cope with the demand. I'm fairly certain that the community will agree on that point.
On recognition of and support for a national test site, we need hands-on participation and involvement from Transport Canada. For your information, so far, there have been two test sites established in Canada: one in Foremost, Alberta—I'm not too sure if they've been invited to speak—and ourselves. We have received Transport Canada's support in the establishment of restricted airspace, and we believe it has strong interest in participating in the development and the operation of BVLOS operations. However, to date, we have been treated as any other operators.
Some provinces, such as Alberta and Quebec, have committed time and money to present strategic orientation. There is an urgent requirement or need to provide some strategic guidance at the federal level as well. I believe it would have a positive influence on the overall development of regulations.
As for standardization across all regions, as I stated, although regulations are being adapted to provide a safe framework, there is a wide gap between regions when it comes to its application. The SFOC application process is different across all regions and this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
On awareness, Transport Canada appears to have some concern with respect to the number of incidents related to UAS. However, I strongly believe that this increased number of statistics is driven by a lack of knowledge from recreational users. I think we've talked about that in the previous segment.
In conclusion, I'd like to thank you very much for this opportunity. I'm looking forward to answering any questions you might have, in French as well.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you all for your very enlightening testimony.
The more we hear from witnesses during this study on drones, the more we learn about them and the more we realize that there is an extraordinary potential for the Canadian economy. Your desire to have some regulatory certainty is important. We must not develop a phobia towards this new technology, as we heard in the first meeting. We must not do with drones what was done with Uber, that is, wait until it is too late before acting and pitting industries against each other.
So thank you for your very interesting testimony.
We are getting quality witnesses and we have received a request from airport representatives to appear before us. We also raised the possibility of inviting people from the municipal world. It might be helpful to allocate an additional day to the study on drones in order to really explore the matter, and so that the committee can quickly report to the government. We must play our role as advisors with these regulations. I am making that request to all my colleagues. We are very open to the idea of adding another session.
The Di Bernadettos are both asking for regulation. At the same time, you say that your main obstacle is regulation. Can you tell me exactly what the industry needs to function properly, with a guarantee of safety? How do you explain that paradox in a few words? You are saying that regulation harms you and, at the same time, you say that you need it.
Either of you can answer.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Distinguished guests, my thanks to you for joining us and for upgrading my knowledge, which, I confess, was somewhat limited. That knowledge comes to me via the pictures you often see on Facebook. They are truly magnificent in terms of promoting tourism, but a little disastrous when you see drones crashing to earth.
I would like to understand how airspace is shared. We know that, as soon as a conventional aircraft takes off, its route is already set. We know exactly where it will go and all risks of collision are eliminated. However, I get the impression that drones do not have to follow rules like that. Perhaps that is the wrong impression. It may just be that recreational use is not subject to those rules whereas professional uses are.
Could one of you enlighten me as to how airspace is shared among drones and aircraft?
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I will continue along the same lines.
We have all tried to fly one of those cheap little drones that you can buy in stores, at least those of us with children have. We have all flown them into walls and, basically, crashed the darned thing, despite all the protection systems. Those are the drones that Canadians are currently familiar with, I feel.
The potential for drones to deliver parcels to people's doors clearly raises safety issues. I will come back to that. At that point, municipal bylaws are an issue too.
A number of people have a stake in the commercial use of drones. Will they fly in the evening, at night, in the morning, for example? People are seriously afraid of drones being used.
We have not talked about this a lot, but we have to give some thought to the acceptability of drones, especially commercial drones, as opposed to the drones we use at home like I do; the ones we try to fly and end up smashing a flower pot or some similar object, as I mentioned.
Where are we with commercial use? Can either of the Mr. Di Benedettos tell us whether your company has dealt with authorities other than Transport Canada?
This is fascinating. I've had a chance to chat with some of you. We've received a couple of suggestions that we don't lapse into techno panic, and I don't think there's any need for that.
I see some great opportunities, especially in the North, to serve the remote communities, to drop in needed supplies, etc. There are boundless opportunities here, and we have to have the regulatory framework that looks after that.
I also envisage the day when we see a drone handcuffed in the back of a police car because it has just delivered drugs to somebody.
Notwithstanding the fact that a lot of these things are going to be gifts at Christmas, my prediction is that within a year a lot of them are going to be sitting up on a shelf somewhere when the novelty has worn off, which leaves us with two sectors. One is commercial, and commercial has some very robust visions. The other is the hacker. When I was a kid, back when we were banging rocks together, we used to love to soup up our cars. Somebody had a brilliant idea. Why don't we create drag strips, so the kids can get out and safely demonstrate what they are doing? As we speak, there are hackers in basements building bigger and faster drones that can go higher.
I guess I'll look to you, Mr. Moher, and Mr. Moffatt, you can comment as well. Has there been any thought as to how to engage these hackers, bring them out, let them play in the sunshine, and let them innovate, instead of forcing them into the basement where they are going to be up to no good?
Sure, absolutely. It's nice to meet everybody today, by the way.
One of the things that we took a look at when we started this endeavour was exactly that type of rogue mentality. You look at our UAVs that we plan on putting into the skies. These are larger than the ones that you see behind us, because we are going to be moving merchandise to remote communities, and so forth, and down the road to a home, a driveway, a rooftop somewhere. The imperative thing that needs to be looked at in all these UAV manufacturers, and all the people who look at these systems that these UAVs come out of, is an ability to ground stop these vehicles. Our embedded systems, that we made sure are built up with that philosophy from the ground up, if there's a ground stop, or Transport Canada or NAV Canada needs to say that you cannot fly, those UAVs shouldn't be taking off at all. If there's a way to enact legislation, a law that forces the manufacturers of these chip sets, like companies such as Intel, AMD, and other manufacturers—
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would like to go back to the subject of education, which seems critical to me. It seems to me that the industry will make greater strides in the area of professional use. That is actually already more regulated than the recreational side, even though the recreational side takes up more space at the moment.
I am fine with your drones flying over our forests and pipelines and in the far north. But when the neighbour's drone flies over my backyard, I have a problem, not with identity theft in this case, but with the shattering of my privacy.
How do you deal with the right to privacy with something as new as the drone industry?
Let us start with Mr. Moher.
Leaving a lot of this up to the operator is the area of problem here, especially in the recreational world. The philosophy is there have to be technologies built into these UAVs at any level, recreational and commercial, that force these UAVs not to do specific things, be it not flying at a particular height, be it not exceeding a certain geofence that's around Parliament or around certain schools. These are technologies that need to be embedded that cannot be altered, not by a consumer. There are always going to be hackers that will try to do things to it, but this is technology that we need to bring, activate, and propose to the manufacturers.
We have close relationships with the manufacturers we use. That's the driver for us on what we do for safety. The last thing you want is for someone to take control of a UAV that's in the sky doing something. On the recreational side, you look at these smaller drones, and we see them as toys. In reality, they're not toys. They're toys to us, but they can be malicious to other people.
The manufacturers need to take up some responsibility. We, as designers and operators, have a very vested interest in this to protect the security of not only ourselves and our clients but the populace in general. I think it's something that needs to be addressed with the manufacturers who put out this technology, saying that this has to be in there, and it has to be at the base, ground level of the technology.
My question goes to the people from Drone Delivery Canada.
If I am correct, you want regulations that would allow you to make deliveries with drones. It may be pizza delivery, medication, even bigger things, as you mentioned just now.
How do you foresee making deliveries by drone safely, given that it will not be possible for the pilot to be constantly within sight of their drones, as is currently required?
I have a second question. In your view, who will be held responsible if, during a delivery, there is an accident involving a drone and a person, a car, a truck or anything else? How will liability be determined?