November 1, 2018

Criminal Conviction For Drone Pilot


In what is being referred to by the RCMP as the first case of a criminal conviction of a drone operator in Canada, a Northwest Territories man was fined $3000 and prohibited from flying drones for three years for operating a drone in the airspace surrounding Yellowknife airport (CYZF).

Territorial Court judge Bernadette Schmaltz reluctantly imposed the sentence on Toufic Chamas, citing the fact that her hands were tied since both the prosecution and defence recommended the same sentence. Given the gravity of the offence, citing the example of a drone causing a major aviation disaster, Schmaltz felt a stronger sentence was in order.

Chamas, 22, had been warned on three previous occasions when he was operating his DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone illegally, those times in Yellowknife’s downtown area, on one occasion near powerlines. Each time he was confronted by police, he pleaded ignorance, despite previously being given a pamphlet by police that outlined the limitations of drone operations.

Chamas also faces charges for unrelated offences including driving while under suspension, various firearms offences, theft, and failing to comply with court orders. Said Judge Schmaltz, “Mr. Chamas’s disregard for court orders couldn’t be more blatant.”