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Smoking Cannabis and Flying Drones

M3 October 24, 2018 0 comments

Don’t get high and fly!

Sorry if you expected to read or watch something different.

Since cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17th, 2018, there have been many discussions about the effects on the workplace. You hear them talking about it on the radio every day on the way to work, and on the way home. You see it in the news, plastered all over the papers and on the internet. Yes, it is a new era. But, NO, you cannot fly drones (or planes, or any aircraft for that matter) while you are stoned!

Straight from the regulations:

Fitness of Crew Members

901.19 (1) No person shall act as a crew member of a remotely piloted aircraft system if the person

  • (a) is suffering or is likely to suffer from fatigue; or
  • (b) is otherwise unfit to perform properly the person’s duties.

(2) No person shall act as a crew member of a remotely piloted aircraft system

  • (a) within 12 hours after consuming an alcoholic beverage;
  • (b) while under the influence of alcohol; or
  • (c) while using any drug that impairs the person’s faculties to the extent that aviation safety or the safety of any person is endangered or likely to be endangered.

It’s pretty simple!

How does the rule affect recreational drone operators? Well, first of all, in Canada we are now under a new regulatory framework for RPAS operators, and it doesn’t matter whether you are flying for fun or for commercial purposes…

If you are flying a drone that weighs more than 250g, you are subject to the above condition, taken straight from Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

Before you make a bad decision to fly a drone while intoxicated, ask yourself: “Am I allowed to drive a car while high?” No! “Am I allowed to fly a plane while high?” No! Well, a “drone” is an aircraft, according to Transport Canada, and that means that even though you are not directly inside it, you are still the pilot of said aircraft, and you must have your faculties while at the helm!

On October 9th, Nicholas Robinson, Director General of Transport Canada, Civil Aviation sent out a general letter to the aviation community, including industry, management and labor organizations, operators, pilots, and professional associations regarding the new cannabis legislation in Canada.

“Cannabis use can cause immediate impairment but also causes longer-lasting impairment that may not be obvious to the user or to the people around them. Cannabis, like many other substances such as narcotics, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, etc., causes impairment that can affect the judgement and actions of members of a flight crew, including pilots. There is scientific consensus regarding the long-lasting effects of cannabis on individuals, even after impairment is no longer felt… As a result, in the interest of aviation safety, Transport Canada does not intend to ease restrictions on the use of cannabis or other substances that cause impairment.”

Transport Canada has an existing regulatory framework in place concerning impairment. If you’ve decided to go and look into this, you may have stumbled across Section 602.03 of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (SOR/96-433), which states that:

No person shall act as a crew member of an aircraft:

a) within eight hours after consuming an alcoholic beverage;
b) while under the influence of alcohol; or
c) while using any drug that impairs the person’s faculties to the extent that the safety of the aircraft or of persons on board the aircraft is endangered in any way.

“Hey, I recognize that from Part IX of the CARs too!”

It IS pretty simple!

So please don’t fly while high!

If you’d like to read a copy of the letter from the Director General of Transport Canada, click here.