Representatives from the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems and Meggitt Canada were in Foremost, Canada on Thursday to provide an information session on the unmanned aircraft system initiative being proposed for the area.
CCUVS received approval from Transport Canada in June to proceed. A proposal for restricted airspace is being put in place for the development of a facility that would allow commercial and civil testing of unmanned aircraft systems.
Retired Canadian Air Force colonel, Bill Werny has spent the past decade working with UAVs and with economic development agencies, such as Palliser Economic Partnership and the Economic Development Alliance of Southeast Alberta in creating the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems and was in Foremost on Thursday for the information session.
“Transport Canada is working with industry to work on rules that will apply to these types of vehicles. All industry that would use UAV are very keen to get involved. Transport Canada has now directed us to create a restricted airspace and that means to avoid it only when there is a testing activity going on,” said Werny.”Everything is being done under the watchful eye of Transport Canada, which has approved our Concept and we got approval to proceed. We are now meeting with NAV Canada to determine the size and dimensions of what the airspace should look like. This is on the leading edge for Canada and the world and it is good to have support from the regulatory bodies and we can grow it in a very structured manner”.
Sterling Cripps, chief operating officer for CCUVS said the vicinity around Foremost provides the ideal environment for unmanned aircraft systems testing. Cripps said that besides the airfield being ideal, the topography, geography, and demographics of the area is perfect for the testing of unmanned aircraft.
Some industries that would benefit from unmanned aircraft systems would be the pipeline and petroleum industries, forestry, law enforcement, and agriculture for crop spraying and vegetation assessments.
“We want companies to use the airspace to run tests, development, and demonstration of their UAVs. Cameras or sensors could be put on and they could fly down the length of power lines, pipelines, or over crops. For fires, there are companies that want to use unmanned aircraft at night to detect hot spots when it is dark and nobody is around,” said Werny. “Every flight will be monitored closely. CCUVs role will be to facilitate and support the companies coming here to test their AUVs. One of the important things is that it does not interfere with local activities. If somebody wants to crop dust, then the project will be shut down until the crop dusting is finished. We will coordinate the events and priority will go to the locals. The key thins is communication and coordination,” he added.
Foremost mayor, Ken Kultgen said the initiative would bring a much-needed economic boost to the community and surrounding area.
“In the past year, we have had a few organizations come out and do some testing. It is an emerging industry that we are hoping to get in on. We have a really good airport, a lot of open space. This is a good place to do this. We have got what it takes and I hope we can make it work,” said Kultgen.
A number of unmanned aircraft were on static display to show to the public some of the technology that is currently out there for various industries, including a launcher used to for the aircraft. CCUVS purchased the Finland-built Robonic MC255LLR catapult/launcher for $1 million with help from Western Economic Diversification Canada.