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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Red tape run amok

15 January 2019

Everyone knows about clipboard nazis.

Oh dear, I used one of the forbidden "n" words did I?

Anyway, these are people who, through endless sucking-up and boot-licking, have finally reached positions of power and authority over others. They revel in the ability to create rules and enforce them, often simply because they can.

Their motto in life is usually "I'm not happy until you're not happy"

They abound in modern society but are most often found in the dark halls of local government or in the back rooms of central government agencies that have allegedly been created to ensure our safety.

About Christmas time, Canada saw a perfect example of these over-zealous bureaucrats and their desire to make everyone's life a misery.

The government agency concerned is Transport Canada and the rules/regulations are the new 2019 RPAS (drone) rules.

Browsing through the gazetted rules is like the notes for some dystopian movie or novel and makes scary reading for anyone who might be subject to them.

Like everything in life, there are good elements and there are bad elements so I summed up both in this recent video:

Clearly these new rules have been written by a person or persons with little actual experience of the field they're attempting to regulate. This is not at all uncommon within government regulation and explains why so many of the "rules" are either silly or borderline insane.

These rules apply to any and all model aircraft and drones weighing between 250g and 20Kg in Canada.

The good and sensible things are that you can't fly over 122m (400 ft) above the ground, you can't endanger people or property etc. All standard fare and represent commonality with other countries' regulations.

However, some of the lunacy, especially when you consider that these rules apply to small model aircraft and toy-grade drones as well, include:

  • Every flight must be logged (time/date/persons/etc)
  • Flight logs must be kept for a minimum of 12 months
  • Every modification, repair, alteration, crash must be logged
  • Maintenance logs must be kept for 24 months
  • Any craft written-off by crash must be reported to The Minister in writing
  • Any craft lost must be reported to The Minister in writing
  • No flying within 12 hours of consuming *any* alcohol
  • No flying any craft with snow or frost on it
  • All persons must sit and pass a licence to fly ($10)
  • Each and every craft must be registered with Transport Canada ($5/each)

And a whole lot more.

Seriously... do they even have the remotest clue what they're dealing with here?

Personally, I can't wait for "The Minister" to be in undated with emails and letters from people flying toy-grade drones and models who have crashed them or had to replace a propeller or battery or whatever. I really think they've opened a pandora's box here.

As for the alcohol thing... it's crazy that the "bottle to throttle" withholding period for manned flight is just eight hours but for flying a toy it's 12 hours. And, as I point out in my video, you could legally drive down to a local bar, have a beer and drive home but if you then got out your toy drone and flew it in the back yard you'd be risking a $1,000 fine.

Obviously much of the new drone regulation in Canada is simply a cut-and-paste from the manned aviation regulations with scant regard for whether it is really justified or even relevant.

If this is the calibre of regulation-making in Canada I shudder to think what other crazy restrictions or requirements they have in other aspects of governance.

Fortunately, here in New Zealand, we're a little better off in respect to our unmanned aviation regulations, however there is a very strong push from commercial and political groups to change that and make us as ludicrous as Canada.

Sadly, I don't think that CAA New Zealand has the balls to stand up to these pressures so we'll probably end up with something very similar. Ah... so much for the innocent fun that kids used to be able to have with model aircraft. Oh yes... Canada, the minimum age for unsupervised use of a model aircraft has now been set at 14.

Idiots!

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