The RCMP are investigating after receiving a report a drone flew too close to Vancouver International Airport – the latest controversy involving unmanned aerial vehicles in this province.
Corporal Dennis Hwang, spokesman for the Richmond RCMP, said Mounties received a report about the drone on Sunday afternoon.
He said officers quickly responded to the scene, near the north runway, but were unable to locate the drone or its owner.
Last month, after two incidents in which aircraft fighting wildfires had to be grounded because drones got too close, the B.C. government announced it would consider changing its Wildfire Act and potentially punishing irresponsible drone operators. The province also announced it would launch a public awareness campaign.
In one of the wildfire incidents, eight helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft assisting with the growing Testalinden Creek blaze were grounded for more than four hours.
In July of last year, Richmond RCMP warned about an incident in which a drone got too close to the Vancouver airport.
In August, a drone narrowly missed colliding with a seaplane.
Kate Donegani, an airport spokeswoman, said Sunday's incident did not affect airport operations.
But she said it is a worry any time a drone gets too close to the facility.
"Drone activity near a busy international airport is highly concerning, of course," she said on Monday.
Ms. Donegani referred comment on the specifics of the incident to RCMP.
Cpl. Hwang said he did not know if the report to police came through the airport or from someone outside.
"[Officers] happened to be very close by to where the report was supposed to originate from. It happened somewhere on the north runway of the airport and we just happened to have three officers who were fairly close by to that," he said.
"Our response time was very quick, but nothing [was found]."
Cpl. Hwang said drone operators should not fly the craft near airports. He noted Transport Canada has said drones should not be any closer to airports than nine kilometres.
The B.C. government, in its announcement last month, noted Transport Canada is developing new regulations for drones. The province said it has made a submission that touches on a number of themes, including safe operation, personal privacy and registration.
"Recent incidents involving illegal drone use in B.C. drives home the urgent need for tougher regulation, education and enforcement within the industry," Transportation Minister Todd Stone said at the time.
"We have sent a submission to our federal colleagues asking for a tougher regulatory regime, with appropriate penalties, and urging them to act quickly on this matter."