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.
An official with Waterloo-based Aeryon Labs, which manufacturers drones, is not surprised by the new regulations.
Systems Integration Engineer, Richard Cunha said Transport Canada had been in contact with industry and the public since the summer that this could be coming down the pipe.
He believes "for the most part" they are sensible regulations.
"In a lot of cases, especially for the basic pilot certificate ... this is really no different than the process that getting your boating licence is equivalent to." Cunha told Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS.
"It's just going online and making sure that the people that are operating these drones ... have the basic knowledge required to basically keep themselves and the general public out of danger." he added.
Cunha said if anything, it simplifies things for commercial operators.
In the past, they have had to apply for a special operation certificate, which he said can be a lengthy process depending on what you need to do.
with files from Blair Adams