Unmanned drone training and approvals program launched in Canada

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Drone avionics company Iris Automation is partnering with two drone test centres in Canada to help companies operate autonomous drones in the country.

California-based Iris Automation develops Detect And Avoid (DAA) systems for the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operation of unmanned aircraft.

The company has launched the Canada Pathfinder Program with the Foremost UAS Test Range in Alberta and the UAS Center of Excellence (CED) in Alma, Quebec to help commercial drone operators through the process of achieving BVLOS approvals and experience.

The program will provide support, training and help proving BVLOS flight competency for any organizations interested in operating BVLOS services inside Canada

William De Keiser, director of the cluster of excellence at CED said, “We see incredible interest in using commercial drone operations but concerns about how to launch a program safely, efficiently and in compliance with current regulations.

“Teaming up with Iris Automation to provide this complete program will help many companies to finally embrace the potential of drone operations.

Doug Hanna, general manager of the Foremost UAS Test Range said, “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.”

Last year, regulator Transport Canada issued a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights in uncontrolled airspace using infrastructure masking and Iris Automation’s onboard detect-and-avoid (DAA) solution to Canadian aerial image and data acquisition firm MVT Geo-solutions.

Under this SFOC, the partner companies will conduct commercial missions over linear power lines in Alma, Quebec. Approval was granted to include the use of Iris Automation’s DAA system, Casia, which provides commercial drones with automated collision avoidance maneuvers.

Gabrielle Wain, vice president of regulatory affairs at Iris Automation said, “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.”

The Canada Pathfinder Program will help companies achieve: a baseline of pre-requisites fpr 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, and the BVLOS flight experience needed to apply for subsequent SFOC approvals.

Iris Automation is also participating in the US Federal Aviation Administration’s Beyond program, which aims to help advance the development of more complex BVLOS drone operations within the US National Airspace.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before eventually becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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