New regulations are on the way for all drone operators, whether they fly for fun, work or research. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Drone operators subject to age limit, certification under new federal rules

MONTREAL — Anyone flying a drone in Canada will have to pass an online exam and get a pilot’s certificate under new rules to be announced today by federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau.

The new regulations, which come into effect June 1, apply to all drone operators, whether they fly for fun, work or research.

Operators will be required to register their drones and mark them with the registration number. A minimum age limit of 14 for basic operations and 16 for advanced will be introduced.

Pilots will have to keep their aircraft below 122 metres — 400 feet — above ground level and stay away from air traffic.

The new rules, which cover drones weighing between 250 grams and 25 kilograms, are aimed at countering a growing trend of drone incursions into space reserved for air travel. Violators could be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and prison.

Transport Canada has documented a spike in the number of incidents posing a risk to aviation safety in recent years. The number of reported incidents more than tripled to 135 in 2017 from 38 when data collection began in 2014.

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