Unmanned aircraft interference with manned aircraft operations including near forest fires – Safety impact and consequences - Civil Aviation Safety Alerts (CASA) No. 2015-05


Persons operating unmanned aircraft and police authorities

Issuing Office: Civil Aviation (Safety Framework)
Document No.: CASA 2015-05
File Classification No.: Z 5000-35
Issue No.: 01
RDIMS No.: 10992506
Effective Date: 2015-08-21


The purpose of this Civil Aviation Safety Alert is to remind all persons operating unmanned aircraft (model aircraft and unmanned air vehicles or UAVs), for any purpose, about the safety impacts and consequences of interfering with manned aircraft operations, including firefighting aircraft.  It is also a reminder of the consequences of contravening regulations pertaining to the use of unmanned aircraft.  Unmanned aircraft, also called drones, are strictly prohibited from flying near or over forest fires.


The growth of activities involving unmanned aircraft has resulted in an increased number of incident reports from other airspace users and the public. Transport Canada has observed a marked increase in the number of incidents involving unmanned aircraft entering controlled and restricted airspace where flights either require authorization or are prohibited.

In August 2015, a number of incidents occurred in British Columbia where manned aircraft fighting forest fires were grounded due to interference from unmanned aircraft. The Canadian Aviation Regulations state that no unauthorized person shall operate an aircraft within 5 nautical miles (9km) of a forest fire or within any associated restricted airspace.


Anyone who violates controlled or restricted airspace and endangers the safety of manned aircraft could be subject to fines or administrative penalties up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment.

Mandatory action:

Pilots of unmanned aircraft (regardless of weight, size or purpose) have a legal responsibility to operate safely and in compliance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations as well as with the Criminal Code of Canada and all relevant provincial, territorial and municipal laws. They must be aware of the location of controlled and restricted airspace. If they have not obtained authorization to enter, they must stay out to ensure that normal and emergency manned flights can be conducted safely and without interference.

Pilots flying UAVs for work or research must do so in accordance with the Aeronautics Act and Canadian Aviation Regulations and where applicable, pursuant to a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) or under a Regulatory Exemption and must always comply with the conditions contained in the certificate or exemption, the Act or the regulations.

Pilots flying model aircraft must operate in a manner that is not hazardous to aviation safety. Transport Canada considers that operating a model aircraft in airspace that is restricted for the purpose of fire fighting compromises aviation safety.

If you see someone flying an unmanned aircraft near a forest fire or in a manner believed to compromise aviation safety, report it immediately to local law enforcement. Additionally, you are encouraged to report the incident to the nearest Transport Canada Civil Aviation office or you may submit a report to Civil Aviation Communications Centre contact form.

Actions available to police authorities:

A police authority acting in the scope of their duties, may, pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada arrest any person found in contravention of the Canadian Aviation Regulations or may arrest any person that has committed, is found committing or about to commit an offence under the Aeronautics Act or the Criminal Code of Canada.

Where appropriate, TC encourages law enforcement to collect evidence, investigate and contact Transport Canada.

Contact office:

For more information on unmanned aircraft refer to:  https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety.

Aaron McCrorie
Director General
Civil Aviation (Safety Framework)

The Transport Canada Civil Aviation Safety Alert (CASA) is used to convey important safety information and contains recommended action items. The CASA strives to assist the aviation industry's efforts to provide a service with the highest possible degree of safety. The information contained herein is often critical and must be conveyed to the appropriate office in a timely manner. The CASA may be changed or amended should new information become available.