Aerospace and Defence

Sector Profile

Build, Test, Fly in Canada’s Sunniest City

Medicine Hat-based aerospace and defence companies can take advantage of two globally competitive ranges, federal and provincial innovation funds, and talent to compete globally.

Positioned between Canadian Forces Base Suffield, Defence and Research Development Canada and Canada’s first Transport Canada-approved beyond-line-of-sight (BVLOS) UAV range, Medicine Hat is a strategic location for military and defence contractors, and companies operating in the fast-growing UAV sector.

No equipment tax, 2,500 hours of annual sunshine, and affordable greenfield airside and groundside development opportunities at Medicine Hat Regional Airport are drawing interest from innovative aerospace companies seeking a Canadian location. Meanwhile, five daily flights to Calgary International Airport provide access to the world.

Companies located in Medicine Hat, Canada can take advantage of BVLOS and military ranges, local talent, and an innovation support and funding ecosystem to build, test, and fly.

It’s time to give Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada a look.

Build, Test, Fly in Medicine Hat

UAV and Defence Testing

Affordable airside development, access to thousands of square kilometres of restricted defence and UAV ranges, experienced manufacturing, engineering, and trade expertise. Medicine Hat, Canada is worth a closer look.

FOREMOST UAS RANGE

Canada’s only BVLOS restricted airspace is located approximately 100 km Southwest of Medicine Hat in Foremost, Alberta. The range made Canadian aviation history on February 24, 2017 when the first BVLOS flight at the first Canadian BVLOS test range took place.

The 2,400 square kilometres of controlled airspace provides companies with the ability to test new technology.

CANADIAN FORCES BASE SUFFIELD

Canada’s largest military training ground offers the opportunity to test UAV’s from surface to unlimited altitude. Located 50 km northwest of Medicine Hat, CFB Suffield controls 2,700 square kilometres of restricted airspace, making it the largest live-fire testing area in the Commonwealth.

The Manoeuvre Training Area covers 1,588 square kilometres of a 2,700 square kilometre base.

Greenfield Airside Development

Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada is a destination for companies seeking affordable airside development opportunities. Three development nodes have been identified by the City of Medicine Hat, offering airside and groundside opportunities along a 5,000’X150’ runway.

NORTH NODE

41 ACRES GREENFIELD

Adjacent to the busy Crowsnest Highway connecting Medicine Hat to Vancouver and the West Coast, the North Node is currently under development. Ideally suited for commercial development, this Node offers 41 acres of airside and groundside opportunities.

EAST NODE

23 ACRES GREENFIELD

Light industrial and commercial developments requiring airside and groundside access are ideal for Medicine Hat Regional Airport’s East Node. This node currently has over 8 acres of light industrial developments, and is adjacent to a light industrial node.

SOUTH NODE

27 ACRES GREENFIELD

Identified as a technology and aviation-related development opportunity, the South Node can accommodate 35,000 square feet of floor space. Developments in this node have airside and groundside access and will feature high quality amenities to attract clean industry.

Medicine Hat Regional Airport Development Map
2011 airport development concept. From Medicine Hat Regional Airport Area Structure Plan.

Innovation Support

Funding programs for innovation are plentiful in Alberta, Canada. Canada’s National Research Council and provincial Alberta Innovates provide pre-commercial funding for research and prototype development, while Medicine Hat’s Angel Investors network provides private capital.

INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (IRAP)

Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) provides funding support through IRAP for small and medium sized companies (up to 500 employees) undertaking technology innovation.

ALBERTA INNOVATES

Alberta Innovates has a 90-year legacy of investing in Alberta’s technology sector. Using their combination of expertise in technologies and networks Alberta Innovates works with entrepreneurs and all sizes of businesses to commercialize their technologies globally and domestically.

ALBERTA EXPORT SUPPORT FUND

Small to medium size export-ready Alberta companies have to access to funds to support active pursuit of new international markets. The Export Support Fund reimburses up to 50% of expenses such as trade show registration, return economy airfare and translating marketing materials.

ALBERTA INVESTOR TAX CREDIT

Investors who provide capital to Alberta small businesses conducting research, development or commercialization of new technology, products or processes are eligible for a 30% tax credit.

Medicine Hat’s Aerospace Cluster

Medicine Hat-based aerospace and defence companies work with local engineering, fabrication, and business talent to serve global military and civilian clientele.

QINETIQ TARGET SYSTEMS

QinetiQ Target Systems designs, manufactures and operates unmanned vehicles for military training exercises. QinetiQ’s targets provide a threat representative training solution and a platform for weapons performance evaluation. “QinetiQ relies on local fabricators to produce high-quality products that are exported globally,” says Corrie Dale, Vice President. The company relies on local testing resources such as CFB Suffield, Elkwater Lake and Foremost UAS Range.

ATLANTIS RESEARCH LABS

Atlantis Research Labs develops new technologies in advanced flight and propulsion capabilities in unmanned vehicles and brings them to the marketplace. “Medicine Hat is the best location in Canada to build, test and fly UAVs” says President and CEO Vladimir Mravcak. The research team at Atlantis create prototypes of combustion-related technologies without moving parts and develop technology relating to subsonic and supersonic simulation, high altitude and suborbital research, while working in collaboration with private and public partnerships.

FORM-TECH MACHINING AND FABRICATION

With more than 20 years of experience, Form-tech Machining and Fabrication specializes in precision machining and welding. Skilled trades personnel collaborate with engineers and work with 3D software to make military grade components for unmanned vehicle systems and test equipment for leading edge companies, such as QinetiQ Target Systems and Amtech Aeronautical.

CANADIAN UNMANNED

Canadian Unmanned is a highly specialized UAV training and support company. “We are one of Canada’s longest serving training companies,” says Sterling Cripps, President. “We have trained over 1,800 civil and commercial operators to fly UAV’s in Canadian airspace.” Transport Canada has approved their training and recognizes it as an important part of a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) submission. Developed with Aviation Publishers, Canadian Unmanned’s training manual is used as a field reference. Clients include Airbus, Cenovus Energy and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

AMTECH AERONAUTICAL

Amtech Aeronautical’s team of engineers and technologists design aeronautical, military and automated systems. “Being close to CFB Suffield is a huge advantage,” says President and Director of Engineering, Alex Markov.  An accredited Transport Canada Civil Aviation Design Approval Organization (DAO), several engineers are delegated to approve aeronautical designs. Company headquarters are equipped with a secure system integration facility with classified assembly capability, allowing the research and development team to do the final assembly and commissioning of prototypes.  Amtech also offers services in 3D and 2D drafting and design, and custom hardware and software for controls.

PURIST WELDING SERVICES

A full-service welding and fabrication facility, Purist Welding Services specializes in military and industrial fabrication. “We specialize in manufacturing aluminum and stainless steel components,” says owner Wes Moch. In addition to welding, the company offers forming (bending) with their precision 5- axis Amada CNC press brake as well as machining services. They provide components for QinetiQ’s aerial and aquatic unmanned target systems.

SUPER T AVIATION

Offering a well established pilot training program from Medicine Hat Regional Airport, Super T Aviation has been operating since 1965. In March 2017 they signed an MOU with Ireland’s National Flight Centre and will soon begin training European pilots. “Medicine Hat’s asset is the abundance of uncontrolled airspace,” says owner Terri Super. Students in the flight training program take advantage of 330 sunny days per year, equating to  VFR weather 90% of the year.

EPIC METAL SERVICES

A full-service fabricator, Epic Metal Services supplies QinetiQ and Amtech Aeronautical with components used in test fixtures and devices for field trials in explosive physics and other R&D activities Suffield. Welders create components from all metals, including stainless steel, aluminum and titanium, to global military standards. Machining and plasma cutting add to their capabilities and diversify their work to include plastics and composites.

MEDICINE HAT COLLEGE 3D PRINTER LAB

Medicine Hat College is home to a Fortus 400MC industrial grade printer, Faro Edge Arm Laser Tracker scanner and Artec Spider Scanner, where a dedicated fabrication technician can help to produce accurate prototypes, including jigs and fixtures made of ABS, polycarbonate, ultem and nylon.