Vancouver airport officials are warning the public about using drones in restricted airspace after one was spotted flying near YVR’s north runway late Sunday afternoon.

Officers searched for the person flying it, but were unable to identify who was responsible.

“We work with our partners at Transportation Canada and at YVR constantly and take sightings of drones extremely seriously,” Cpl. Dennis Hwang told CTV News in an email.

No flights were affected, but the incident has officials concerned.

Bill Yearwood, Transportation Safety Board, says the number of drones getting too close to active airspace is increasing.

“We’re seeing more and more reports of drones around airports, and that is a concern,” he says. “In the most severe instances this can be catastrophic.”

If an object comes through a cockpit window and hurts the pilot the whole aircraft could be in jeopardy, notes Yearwood. Engines can also be taken out by a drone.

Any organization or company that operates a drone requires an operating certificate – but there is little regulation for private operators.

“The problem is that drones are becoming so affordable, and there are limited regulations for private operators,” Yearwood says.

“We don’t assume people are out there thinking they’re going to try and take down an aircraft - we think they’re mostly naïve about what the problems can be. There needs to be more education on that risk.”

Drones are expected to be a popular gift this holiday season. Industry analysts are predicting nearly 750,000 will be sold in the U.S. alone.

Peter Dysktra is working to get an aerial photography business off the ground. He says many people who use drones as toys are ruining it for commercial operators who follow all industry regulations.

"It's annoying really, a bit of a taint on the industry,” says Dykstra. “It's really a hazard to us because we're trying to work through the regulations, get all our paperwork in order, develop procedures and ensure safety.” 

Sunday’s incident is not the first of its kind. Wildfire efforts were hampered several times during B.C.’s blazing summer when drones flew into restricted airspace.

The province recently asked Transport Canada to strengthen regulations around drones and impose stiffer penalties for violators.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Scott Hurst