It's raining drones: Montreal man nearly struck in the head on downtown street
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016 7:06PM EST
A Montreal man narrowly avoided serious injury after a $1,000 drone fell out of the sky on a busy downtown street.
La Presse journalist Yves Boisvert was out for a walk on St. Laurent Boulevard when the object passed within metres of his head before crashing into the ground.
“Of course I was surprised,” he told CTV Montreal. “I didn’t know what it was, a UFO coming down from the sky?”
The drone was severely damaged on impact. The manufacturer’s official data sheet specifies that it weighs 1.2 kilograms.
Experts say hobby-grade drones are notoriously unreliable, especially in the hands of new pilots. Cold weather can cause batteries to suddenly die mid-flight and radio signal interference can disrupt remote control inputs.
So-called “drone fail” videos of amateur pilots crashing their devices have racked up millions of views on YouTube as drones become an increasingly affordable hobby.
“Just around Montreal and the St. Lawrence River there’s about half a million dollars’ worth of sunk drones,” said Jean LaRoche, who trains drone operators.
Professionals are required to have an operating certificate, but hobbyists do not require any training or certification.
Transport Canada guidelines for drones under 35 kilograms forbid flying within 150 metres of people, buildings, structures or vehicles.
Boisvert’s near miss and others like it have prompted calls for tighter regulations.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced plans to bring in new rules by the spring, including age restrictions, written tests, and markings that will identify a drone’s owner.
“In Quebec last year some people lost an eye, had lacerations on the fingers. Some got hit in the face, (and) on the head,” said LaRoche. “People should remember that they are always liable for property damage they do with their drones or injuries that could occur to people underneath.”
Boisvert has handed the drone that nearly struck him over to Transport Canada in the hopes of finding its owner.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Rob Lurie