Iris Automation Launches BVLOS Drone Program in Canada

By Mike Ball / 28 Feb 2021
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Iris Automation Casia DAA

Iris Automation has partnered with the Foremost UAS Test Range in Alberta and the UAS Center of Excellence (CED) in Alma, Quebec, to launch the Canada Pathfinder Program, an all-in-one solution designed to streamline the complex steps required to achieve BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) approvals and experience for UAS (unmanned aerial systems).

The program includes flight training, assistance with gaining BVLOS approvals, a BVLOS safety system, engineering and regulatory support, and test center access. It is open to any organizations interested in operating BVLOS services inside Canada, and aims to advance the state of the art for long-distance and remotely-piloted commercial drone services.

Benefits of the Canada Pathfinder Program include:

  • A baseline of pre-requisites needed for achieving BVLOS advanced operations approvals from Transport Canada (TC)
  • Expedited issuance of TC Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for BVLOS flights within test centers
  • Team training and standard procedures on how to perform safe BVLOS operations
  • The BVLOS flight experience needed to apply for subsequent SFOC approvals

Transport Canada recently issued the second Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for BVLOS flights in uncontrolled airspace to MVT Geo-solutions, who are utilizing infrastructure masking and Iris Automation’s Casia onboard detect-and-avoid (DAA) solution. Under this SFOC, MVT, the UAS Center of Excellence (CED Alma), and Iris Automation are partnering to conduct commercial missions over linear power lines in Alma, Quebec. Approval was granted to include the utilization of Casia, which provides commercial drones with automated collision avoidance maneuvers.

Iris Automation already participates in the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND program to advance more complex UAS operations BVLOS in the US National Airspace System, and is committed to developing critical detection technologies and working closely with global policymakers and regulators to develop appropriate safety standards.

William De Keiser, Director of the Cluster of Excellence, CED, said: “We see incredible interest in utilizing commercial drone operations but concerns about how to launch a program safely, efficiently and in compliance with current regulations. Teaming with Iris Automation to provide this complete program will help many companies to finally embrace the potential of drone operations. As a Canadian pioneer in the civil and commercial RPAS industry, we are proud to continue to develop the technologies and skills that speed up the advent of safe and well-integrated BVLOS flight in Canadian airspace.”

Doug Hanna, General Manager of the Foremost UAS Test Range, commented: “Our primary aim is to advance BVLOS operations in Canada. We look forward to working with Iris Automation to help drone companies move from VLOS to safe BVLOS operations.”

Gabrielle Wain, vice president of regulatory affairs at Iris Automation, stated: “Our work in Canada, specifically with Transport Canada and the RPAS test sites, has demonstrated the incredible opportunities the country offers for advanced commercial drone solutions. We’re excited to partner with the CED Alma and Foremost as a way to bring the expertise required to local markets and help jumpstart the efforts for organizations keen to get started.”

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact