Madam Chairman and members of the committee, thank you very much.
As mentioned, my name is Rudy Kellar. With me is my colleague Brian Guimond, who's Nav Canada's manager of military operations and unmanned aerial systems. Thank you for inviting Nav Canada to appear before the committee as part of your study into the regulations governing unmanned aerial vehicles. To us, this is an important issue, and we were pleased to see the committee decided to examine it.
For those who are not aware, Nav Canada is the private company that owns and has operated Canada's civil air navigation system for the past 20 years. We provide air traffic services, which include air traffic control, fight services, and other related services to pilots operating in Canadian airspace and international airspace delegated to Canada. We own the radars and other surveillance technologies that enable us to monitor the skies and the navigational aids used by all pilots flying in our airspace.
We are proud of our record in improving safety and efficiency in our skies and in reducing delays to passengers and aircraft operators. An act of Parliament gave us the right and responsibility to plan and manage airspace in Canada. Transport Canada retains authority to regulate us from a safety perspective, as they do with airlines and airports.
As the committee has heard over the past few weeks, the UAV industry is growing and there are applications for the technology that are quite exciting. However, it is essential that the growth occur in a way that does not undermine safety, for those currently using the skies, for those wishing to take to the skies with their UAVs, and for those on the ground.
Nav Canada has been an active participant in the Canadian aviation regulation advisory council, or CARAC, process that has been developing enhancements to the current Canadian regulatory framework governing UAV operations. We also sit on the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, remotely piloted aircraft systems panel, working on the development of international regulatory standards and recommended practices for states.
Airspace in Canada is divided into seven classes, class A through G, but can generally be thought of as separated into controlled airspace and uncontrolled airspace. On a day-by-day basis, commercial UAV operations in uncontrolled airspace are approved by Transport Canada or adhere to criteria for exemption from the approval requirement. UAV operations that have received Transport Canada approval through a special flight operating certificate, or SFOC, process to operate within controlled airspace include a requirement that their operations be coordinated with Nav Canada. They will contact one of our air traffic control facilities to work out the details of their operations so that we are aware of when and where they plan to operate. That coordination allows us to assess the risk from the proposed operation and impose restrictions as appropriate, such as limitations on altitude, hours of operation, communication, and determine the requirement, if any, for a notice to airmen to be published.
Normally, in controlled airspace, an air traffic controller's job is to use surveillance technology to know where all aircraft are and to provide control instructions for changes in altitude or heading by communicating with the pilot on the radio or through a data link connection. All control instructions are designed to keep aircraft in their airspace moving efficiently and safely separated.
There is some less busy airspace in which we provide traffic advisory services in Canada. Essentially that means ensuring pilots know where the other aircraft are in the area and what their intentions are. In this instance, it is the pilot's own responsibility to see and avoid the other aircraft once we have provided the flight information.
The integration of UAVs into the national airspace has provided unique challenges for air traffic management now and going forward. Controllers can't see the UAVs on our radar screens because the vast majority don't have transponders and are physically too small to be detected.
In those rare instances where a UAV is large enough or near enough to be detected by primary radar, the target on the radar screen looks the same as a bird would, and there is no communication available from the air traffic controller as they do not have the radio frequency, so they cannot be provided any instructions.
I think the committee has heard a lot in the past few weeks about how the technology is improving and what might be possible in the future, but today the lack of existing sense-and-avoid technology precludes complete integration of UAVs into controlled airspace, so a segregated integration concept is used to ensure flight safety.
The committee also heard about the potential of ADS-B technology to allow UAVs and pilots to see and avoid each other. Nav Canada is a world leader in the deployment of ADS-B technology. We were among the first air navigation systems in the world to use it when we deployed it around the coast of Hudson Bay in 2009 to fill a gap in radar coverage. We further deployed it up the northeast coast of Baffin. We are the majority partner in a joint venture to launch ADS-B sensors into 66 satellites, a constellation to provide the very first low-earth orbiting space-based surveillance of ADS-B. That is a global service that will provide surveillance worldwide.
It is important to recognize there are two very different types of ADS-B. There is ADS-B in and ADS-B out. With ADS-B out, the aircrafts broadcast information about their position twice every second. We have receivers in the Hudson Bay area, in the northeastern part of Canada, that capture that broadcast and provide our controllers with situational awareness, where the aircraft is at all times. ADS-B in, however, is the technology that allows the pilot in the cockpit or the UAV operator to see the other suitably equipped ADS-B aircraft around them on their own radar-like display, and in theory, take action accordingly.
While ADS-B usage has been growing, and there is a requirement that all aircraft in the United States be equipped by 2020, it is ADS-B out that they are equipping for, the broadcast capability only. No jurisdiction in the world is mandating that aircraft equip with ADS-B in, and the rates of equipage today are very low as the costs are very prohibitive for aircraft to equip.
It would, therefore, be incorrect to assume that ADS-B will, in any near term, provide the sense-and-avoid capability that will help to mitigate the risks beyond visual line of sight UAV operations. We favour further investigation regarding UAV ADS-B out equipage that would correlate with industry anti-collision equipment already installed on the majority of commercial aircraft in Canada. This is particularly important for internal airspace in and around airports.
When pilots see a UAV during flight today, they report it to Nav Canada's air traffic controllers and flight service specialists, and those reports are made available to Transport Canada through the Canadian aviation daily occurrence report, or CADORS. CADORS reports of UAV encounters were 182 last year, up from 72 the previous year, and are anticipated to continue to climb, with the majority occurring around the urban centres of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.
Nav Canada is a member of the CARAC, as mentioned earlier, and a member of the CARAC UAV systems program design working group. In August we submitted comments to Transport Canada on the proposed regulatory amendments designed to govern visual line of sight operations for UAVs under 25 kilograms. We have advocated for more rigorous requirements on such items as registration, operator education, training requirements and licensing, minimum age requirements, and most importantly, minimum distances to aerodromes.
In the longer term we think there is a need to examine the potential role of ADS-B technology and to consider ADS-B equipage requirements in certain airspaces in Canada for both piloted and non-piloted aircraft. Government should also be working with UAV manufacturers to implement geofencing to keep amateur UAVs away from controlled airspace and below certain altitudes.
In the meantime we believe there is a critical need now to improve enforcement capabilities and clarify legislation enabling law enforcement agencies to assist in real-time enforcement of UAV-related violations to the Aeronautics Act. Today, we understand, only the RCMP has the delegated authorities to enforce the Aeronautics Act. Local, provincial, and municipal police have no authority to enforce such violations, yet are being asked to address the issue.
Thank you. I'd be pleased to take questions when required.
Good morning, and thank you for calling me to present before the committee.
My name is Hugh Liu. I'm a professor at the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies. My own research expertise is in the area of aircraft systems and control. Regarding UAV-related research, I have made contributions in autonomous, unmanned systems development for formation flight and the co-operative control of a group of UAVs.
Our aim is to increase the UAV's scope, scalability, and flexibility by flying a number of UAVs together. For example, we have conducted successful research on wildfire monitoring in collaboration with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources, and we also have successfully demonstrated this through a few flight tests. We are collaborating with scientists in biology and geography for wetland inspections. As a result, we have seen great potential for UAVs in this emerging market.
In addition, I am a leading principal investigator of the collaborative research and training experience program, also called CREATE, on research and training with UAVs. This was awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, NSERC, back in 2015. As a result, I'm the director of the centre for aerial robotics research and education at the University of Toronto.
The program falls within the industrial stream and is a unique research and training opportunity, focused on UAVs, that will give our students, especially graduate students, the interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills needed to propel Canadian aerospace companies forward into a prosperous future in this field.
Our academic team of 11 faculty members from three universities, assembled for this program, brings the unique expertise of each member and collectively spans all key scientific and technological areas.
The strategic research training in UAVs will create a new interdisciplinary program that directly addresses the Canadian research priorities of information and communications technologies, as well as natural resources. We believe unmanned aerial vehicles hold great promise for applications as diverse as natural resource monitoring, infrastructure inspection, agriculture, mineral exploration, and so on. This is the most vibrant sector of the aerospace industry, and is growing very quickly.
Canada has a long history of leadership in aviation. We certainly hope, as academics, we can be a part of that and support the Canadian sectors and communities in developing a strategy for this emerging sector to keep our nation's interests and leading-edge advantage.
In terms of UAV regulations, it's important to maintain the aviation sector's rigorous policy and procedures to ensure safety and security are in place, yet keep an open mind so as to support the commercial applications of UAVs and to address the special features involving unmanned aerial vehicles.
It is important to identify different needs and requirements between commercial applications and consumer products, and establish separate and distinctive policies and guidelines accordingly.
Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the committee. Thank you very much for the invitation.
Although my background is not in UAVs or regulations, I will be glad to help with this important cause. To give some brief background about me, I am a professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Toronto. I am the design chair for the faculty-wide Institute for Multidisciplinary Design and Innovation. Before that, I was at Ryerson University. I was the founding chair of the department of aerospace engineering at Ryerson University and the founding director at Ryerson University for aerospace design and innovation. So I have been involved with aerospace-related research and programs for a while.
Currently at the University of Toronto, we have a lot of collaboration with aerospace companies, including Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney, and other companies. My own research falls in the area of lighted structures for both aerospace and automotive applications.
In terms of the UAV, I have been lucky enough to have a collaboration with Drone Delivery Canada, which is a new company. We have run a couple of projects with them so far. One of them, which was recently in place, is for the delivery of the payload, so we are working with them on the mechanism for the delivery of the payload.
Overall, certification is a very important issue, because it has an impact on the safe operation of aircraft, including UAVs. I was looking into the background of that, the regulations that have been in place—and I believe one is going to come into effect very soon—about airspace for the drones, which has also been in practice for the past few years. I think this is very important, because this is the area that I believe has an impact on the safe operation of UAVs in general.
I'm quite supportive of any regulations that bring into play safety and the airworthiness of these aircraft, including UAVs.
Thank you very much.
To answer the first question, the segregation or determination of airspace is a responsibility of Transport Canada, which remains the authoritative figure on that. We have actively worked with Transport and industry in Canada to allocate certain airspaces for testing and experimentation of the drone use across the country.
The second question, if I understood it correctly, is how we feel UAVs can coexist with commercial aviation, or general aviation, or any type of aviation. Is that the second question?
Some of the key points in my opening remarks were intended to directly reflect that. I think the real challenge starts with the integration into the various classes of airspace of what types of drones and what type of equipage and certification those relative types of drones would need in those classes of airspace.
My colleague Brian described a couple of the different airspaces. In simple terms, if you can imagine it like an inverted wedding cake, then the closer you get to the airport and to the ground, the higher the risk in a smaller area, which we need to be sensitive to for safety risks in terms of awareness for the operators of UAVs and the operators of aircraft in a busy terminal environment. At higher altitudes, we don't necessarily anticipate as much UAV traffic, but when it does someday evolve and will be in that airspace, the equipage of the UAV drone and the aircraft, and the communication techniques, need to be very similar.