Transport Canada forms drone advisory committee to inform policy for unmanned and automated craft

Transport Canada is launching a Canadian Drone Advisory Committee (CanaDAC) on 12 May 2021, which will provide a national forum for industry and other key stakeholders to inform priority policy and regulatory areas of focus for Transport Canada and advance Canada’s thinking on remotely piloted aircraft systems and increasingly automated aircraft, says the regulator.

The committee brings together up to 35 key thought leaders and subject matter experts from a broad range of implicated sectors, and will focus on topics that pertain to the continued integration of RPAS into the Canadian economy in the longer-term, such as anticipated technological innovation in the next 5-10 years, new ways to use RPAS, and what government and industry needs to do to prepare for these changes.

The committee will convene for two years and hold an estimated three half-day virtual meetings per year.

The new body brings together up to 35 of the industry’s thought leaders, and for several purposes. According to a report by DroneDJ, CanaDAC will enable Transport Canada (TC) and the industry to:

  • Engage in meaningful dialogue in order to support a better shared understanding of future industry needs, directions, and constraints.
  • Identify emerging areas of innovation, discuss key challenges, issues and opportunities, and examine the economic, environmental and social impacts of RPAS for the Canadian industry and broader public.
  • Support the development of future RPAS policy and planning by TC.

A Terms of Reference document lays out the scope of CanaDAC. It includes the term RPAS, which stands for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems:

The overall mandate of the CanaDAC will be to bring together stakeholders from industry, government, academia and other key areas to encourage innovation and growth of the industry in Canada through contributions to Transport Canada policy development and strategic direction-setting. The group will also help to identify and address RPAS-related issues and challenges.

The committee will meet online for three half-day sessions annually over a two-year period (with the possibility that will continue beyond the two-year period). The scope includes touching on these key points:

  • Anticipated technological innovation in the next 5-10 years.
  • New business cases for drone use and the impact on traditional commercial models, the aviation industry, and Canadian society more broadly.
  • Development of a policy and a regulatory framework for a technology that is rapidly evolving and disruptive in nature.
  • Social implications as the technology continues to evolve, such as concerns around public acceptance, and the privacy of Canadians.
  • Opportunities and impacts of RPAS on distinct groups and communities, such as women and Indigenous persons in Canada.

CanaDAC members include Philip Reece, president and CEO of InDro Robotics, which is the first RPAS company in Canada to receive a Canadian Transport Agency license to carry commercial cargo by drone; Mike Nolan, the chief of paramedic service and director of emergency services with Renfrew Paramedics, one of the country’s largest mobile carriers, and the Chair of Unmanned Systems Canada, Systèmes Télécommandés Canada, Michael Cohen.

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