Air Canada Express crew has near miss in Ottawa: 'We had to just avoid a drone'
Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:32AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 19, 2017 6:40PM EDT
It was a near miss for Air Canada Express flight 8975 from Montreal to Ottawa on Tuesday evening, after dodging a drone on landing.
“Tower, we had to just avoid a drone here on final (descent),” the pilot told air traffic control recorded by the website LiveATC.net, “it just went past our left wing.”
The crew spotted the drone on the western edge of Barrhaven towards the 416, believed to be five to seven kilometres from the airport, around 5:16 Tuesday evening. The plane landed safely minutes later.
A spokesperson for Jazz Aviation, the company that operates the flight for Air Canada, says “I can confirm that on approach to the Ottawa Airport from Montreal, the crew of flight AC8975 reported seeing an unmanned aerial vehicle or a drone,” Manon Stuart told CTV News in an emailed statement, “The aircraft landed in Ottawa safely and without incident. This was immediately reported to the regulatory authorities and local law enforcement for investigation.”
Stuart says at no time was the plane forced to change its flight path.
The fact that the drone met the plane in the air over Barrhaven, home to 85,000 people, has the area city councillor, Jan Harder, concerned, “that’s a terrible what if.”
“Kids get them for Christmas, people who used to like model planes are now flying drones and it’s become quite an industry.”
Harder reached out to Ottawa City Manager Steve Kanellakos for clarity on drone regulations and enforcement, “I wanted to make sure the new rules and regulations had taken into consideration a place like Barrhaven, which I think is a bit of an anomaly in Canada given the proximity to the airport,” added Harder.
Kanellakos confirmed to Harder the Transport Canada regulations, unveiled last month, cracking down on the recreational use of drones.
Under the new restrictions, recreational drone pilots are prohibited from flying their UAVs higher than 90 metres, within 75 metres of buildings, animals or people, or within nine kilometres of an airport. Night flights are also prohibited under the new restriction, which promises a fine of up to $3,000.
Recreational users are also required to include their name, address and phone number with their drones
If a drone and plane meet, experts say the plane’s engine could be destroyed in seconds. The consequences could be catastrophic.
Transport Canada says there were 148 reported incidents involving drones in 2016. That's up from 85 incidents in 2015, and 41 incidents in 2014.