Flight crew spots drone flying near Ottawa airport

Flight crew spots drone flying near Ottawa airport

A drone was spotted in the air by the crew of an airliner approaching the Ottawa airport on Tuesday.

Air Canada Express flight 8975 took off from Montreal's airport at 4:46 p.m. ET Tuesday and landed in Ottawa safely at 5:19 p.m.

The crew aboard the five-year-old twin turboprop Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 reported the drone as they were making their approach in Ottawa, according to Jazz Aviation LP spokesperson Manon Stuart.

The pilot's call to the airport's air traffic controllers at 5:16 p.m. was recorded by the website liveATC.net, which monitors air traffic control communications across the globe.

'It just went past our left wing'

"Tower, we just had to avoid a drone here on final [approach]. It just went past our left wing," a pilot is heard saying.

The pilot said the drone was at an altitude of about 1,500 feet, or 457 metres, about 5.5 to 7.5 kilometres away from the runway.

Listen to the recording here.

A few minutes later, air traffic controllers advised the crew of another flight to use a different runway.

In an emailed statement, Stuart wrote that the Air Canada Express flight landed without incident and that the sighting was immediately reported to authorities.

'It could crash a plane'

Members of the public are asked to call 911 if they see a drone flying too close to the airport, said Mark Laroche, president and CEO of the Ottawa International Airport Authority.

"It doesn't happen a lot, but even once is too often," Laroche said.

"It is on the increase because more and more recreational drones are being sold and bought by people that are not taking the necessary precautions and are not using them in a safe way."

In March, federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau announced new rules for recreational drone users.
Flying a drone weighing more than 250 grams within nine kilometres of somewhere aircraft take off or land can result in a fine of up to $3,000. 

"It is a serious aviation safety consideration," Laroche said. 

"It could crash a plane if a plane is taking off or landing."

It's not the first time a drone has been spotted near the Ottawa airport.

On May 25, 2016, NORAD dispatched two CF-18 fighter jets to the skies over Ottawa after a drone was sighted by WestJet pilots.

The airport is also working to develop technology to help detect drones that enter its airspace, Laroche said.