May 9, 2019

The Downside of Consumer Drones


Drones operated irresponsibly continue to be a menace to public safety. In March of this year, two men were arrested for using a drone in an attempt to deliver cellphones to prisoners inside of Rivière-des-Prairies prison in Montreal. In a similar incident last year, guards intercepted a drone carrying tobacco and drugs into Matsqui Institution in Abbotsford, just outside of Metro Vancouver. And in March of this year, another interception was made as $86,000 in contraband, including a knife, was seized at the perimeter of Kent Institution, British Columbia’s only maximum security prison, located in the town of Agassiz in B.C.’s Fraser Valley.

The latter incidents have prompted the Correctional Service of Canada to issue a call for proposal for equipment that can serve as an intrusion-detection system at six federally-run prisons across Canada.

The pilot project (no pun intended) will run over a period of four years at federal prisons in Mission, British Columbia, Stony Mountain in Manitoba, Collins Bay in Ontario, Cowansville and Donnacona in Quebec and Dorchester in New Brunswick.

And in Sudbury, Ontario, air ambulance service provider Ornge  is urging the drone-piloting public to respect a no-fly zone near the roof-top heliport at that city’s Health Sciences North hospital. In a press release, Ornge stated “Drones can put air ambulance personnel and aircraft at risk if they are flown in an unsafe manner. They are difficult to spot from a distance and only become visible when within short range of an Ornge aircraft, particularly helicopters.”

“As a result, unsafe drone use may impact Ornge’s ability to safely perform patient transports,” the statement added. Ornge also identified other area landmarks where the presence of drones can negatively impact the safety of medevac flights.

“Our mission requires us to fly the most direct route to patients and the definitive care that they need. If our crew needs to alter their flight paths to avoid contact with drones, that poses a serious safety concern to the aircraft, crew and patient,” said Ian McLean, Ornge’s chief operating officer for aviation affairs.

Image of Kent Institution courtesy of Google Earth.