Drone hits commercial aircraft over Canada

Commentary: The Canadian Minister of Transport says the drone was flying out of legal limits.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

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No drone zone in Gdansk, Poland

It is not currently known what sort of drone was involved.


It was, says the Canadian Minster of Transport, the first time it's happened in Canada.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Marc Garneau revealed that on Thursday, a Skyjet flight was struck by a drone as it approached Jean Lesage International Airport in Québec City.

"I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely," said Garneau.

The Ministry of Transport told me that the aircraft was a Beech 100 King Air. The drone has not been identified. 

Garneau told CBC that "it could have been much more serious" had the drone struck an engine or the cockpit.

He said the drone had been flying 3 miles from the airport at 450 meters (around 1,500 feet). This is 150 meters above the legal limit. There were eight passengers on the plane.

Since drones became commonplace, there have been increasing reports of the unmanned aerial vehicle endangering aircraft.

Some have been reported as near-misses. Some pilots have been convinced that a drone has struck their plane, although the actual presence of a drone was never confirmed.

Indeed, earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration declared that it had seen no verifiable evidence that a drone had ever struck a plane.

"Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft," it said.

In September, however, two army helicopters were struck by a drone over Staten Island

The FAA's rules state that no drone should fly over 400 feet nor anywhere near airports or aircraft. To fly within 5 miles of an airport, you need permission.

Some pilots, however, insist that drones aren't the problem that many would believe. Commercial pilot Chris Manno, for example, insists that there are hundreds of bird strikes a year, but few lead to any damage.

Some drone operators simply cannot help being irresponsible, however. With wildfires still raging in California's Napa and Sonoma wine regions, the National Weather Service had to remind casual drone operators to keep away.

In Canada, Garneau insisted that drones were a menace. 

"It is important to point out aircraft are particularly vulnerable when they are coming in [for landing] … and during take-off," he said.

First published Oct. 15 5:38 p.m. PT.

Update, 5:40 p.m.: Adds response from Ministry.

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