Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – Invest Medicine Hat

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Opportunities / Reports

Southeast Alberta is home to Canada’s only beyond-line-of-sight restricted airspace, making it a desirable destination for companies looking to test their technology.

UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES (UAVs)

For the aerospace industry, Southeast Alberta’s assets and strategic advantages are worth a look. Canada’s only beyond-line-of-sight restricted airspace is within 100km of Medicine Hat and is poised to become the preferred destination for drone companies to test prototype technology. According to Canadian Unmanned Inc., the 2,400 square kilometre airspace allows for testing up to an altitude of 18,000 feet, presenting “significant training, research and development possibilities for both Canadian and international companies.”

QinitiQ Target Systems‘ (formerly Meggitt Target Systems) Medicine Hat branch provides unmanned aerial, land, and aquatic targets for military around the world. CFB Suffield, Northeast of Medicine Hat, offers the largest live-fire training ground in the British Commonwealth.

All of this is to say that Medicine Hat has the assets, expertise, and space to serve as a training and testing centre for the anticipated 82 billion dollar industry. Indeed, companies are already beginning to use the Foremost airspace to test their BVLOS technology.

It certainly appears Medicine Hat has an important role to play in this not-to-distant sci-fi future.

OPPORTUNITY

In 2014, the Unmanned Systems Canada (USC) update of the Canadian Civil UAV Study indicates that the dollar value of the Canadian UAV market can vary, but could range from $100 million to $260 million in procurement and operations over a 10 year period. USC’s report also noted a threefold increase in the number of Canadian companies conducting UAV operations since 2008.

Transport Canada acknowledges the growing interest in commercial and recreational UAV use and is currently provides less restrictive UAV regulations than the U.S. BVLOS testing is allowed in Canada on a case-by-case basis, as they work to develop regulations.

MARKET APPLICATIONS

The following are potential mature market applications that have been identified by Transport Canada and USC as applying UAVs.

  • Agriculture surveys
  • cinematography and film
  • police investigations
POTENTIAL ECONOMIC APPLICATIONS

The following applications hold potential but require increased airspace and testing opportunities, according to Transport Canada and USC.

  • Meteorology/oceanography
  • search and rescue
  • urban planning/surveying
  • disaster relief
  • monitoring the integrity of Canadian pipelines and hydro lines
  • measuring the bulk value of our forests
  • environmental monitoring of the ArcticBVLOS technology also offers opportunity for the agriculture sector to monitor crops and herds.
CANADIAN UAV SECTOR
  • Since 2008 there has been a threefold increase in Canadian Universities involved in UAV (31 versus 11). (This does not include any activity at Canadian Colleges)
  • The number of Canadian companies involved in this sector has also shown more than a three-fold growth (312 versus 88) compared to 2008.
  • “Small” UAV (up to 25 Kg) remain the focus of the Canadian industry and of this study. While other categories of system (larger and smaller) are touted and may have long term potential, they are not considered to be priority for support to Canadian industry at the moment due to uncertainty and long time frames.
THE CIVIL UAV MARKET
  • Market estimates for Civil UAV are wide ranging due to the emergent nature of this sector, the reliance on new and developing markets and technology, and the barriers presented by regulation (two example estimates are cited in this report : $800M/year2 and $4.5B/year3 ). The authors are reluctant to develop any generalized estimate of the dollar value of the Canadian UAV civil market due to the large number of assumptions required to make such an estimate. For comparison sake, and to illustrate the variety of assumptions required, an estimated Canadian economic value of four “emerging UAS Applications” in Canada is developed. This estimate ranged from $100 M to $260 M in procurements and operations over a 10 year period, depending upon the underlying assumptions chosen.
  • The AUVSI U.S. market assessment predicts an overall economic impact of this sector in the twelve year period 2015-2026 to be $US 82 Billion.
  • The Teal Group estimates a civil UAS economic value of approximately $800 Million annually by 2023.
REGULATION
  • The regulatory recommendations provided by the Transport Canada UAV Working Group in 2007 have served as a roadmap which has generally been followed since 2008.
  • UAV regulation in Canada is better than many jurisdictions, but lags some.
  • At least 6 other countries report having some level of regulation in place for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations.
  • BVLOS Operations remain unattainable for now in Canada, but regulatory work is starting to focus on this barrier to many commercial UAV applications.
  • The U.S. regulatory environment is less permissive than Canada’s, and numerous issues abound – but the pressure for the FAA to enact enabling regulations continues to grow.

Information on the Civil UAV Market and Regulation is provided by Canadian Civil UAS report 2014.

Foremost Airspace

With 700 square nautical miles (2,400 square kilometres) of airspace designated for up to 18,000 feet above sea level, the Foremost Centre for Unmanned Vehicles opens up training, research and development possibilities for both Canadian and international companies. It Canada’s first beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) airspace and a potentially important early step in the development of commercial drones in Canada.

RESTRICTED AREA
  • Designated Altitude: 4,000ft to 10,000ft
  • User Agency: Transport Canada (613) 990-9869
  • Controlling Agency: Edmonton ACC (780) 890-8397
  • Operating Procedures: No person shall operate an aircraft within the area described unless the flight has been authorized by the User/Controlling Agency.
  • Source: Designated Airspace Handbook, Issu

CFB Suffield Airspace

CFB Suffield controls the 2,700 sq. km restricted airspace, which represents Canada’s largest live-fire testing ground, and one of the largest in the world. This asset is used for testing by Canadian and British military. Some cattle grazing and oil & gas activity takes place on the land, representing an opportunity for further unmanned aerial systems (UAS) testing in those industries.

RESTRICTED AREA
  • Designated Altitude: Surface to unlimited
  • User/Controlling Agency: Operations Officer, CFB Suffield (403) 544-4310/4313, (CSN) 520-4310/ 4313
  • Operating Procedures – No person shall operate an aircraft within the area described unless the flight has been authorized by the User/Controlling Agency.
  • Source: Designated Airspace Handbook, Issue 254

Associations, Trade Fairs and Training

Legislation and Regulation

Transport Canada
Drone pilots are required to apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC). A Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) tells you how and where you may fly your drone  (legally known as a UAV). Here’s a handy flowchart to help you understand if you need to apply for an SFOC.

News and Reports

  • Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada | The State of Canada’s Aerospace Industry, 2016
    Canada’s aerospace industry contributed more than $28B to GDP and 211,000 jobs to the Canadian economy in 2015.
    Annual compensation per employee in aerospace manufacturing was 60% above the manufacturing sector average.
    Western Canada captured close 44% of aerospace MRO activities.
    Close to 80% of aerospace manufacturing was exported, and the industry was 55% more export intensive than the manufacturing sector average and twice as trade diverse.
  • Invest in Canada | Aerospace Industries
    Canada ranks third globally in terms of civil-aircraft production — a remarkable achievement given the country’s relatively small population. With some 700 companies, Canada’s aerospace manufacturing and maintenance, repair, and overhaul industries are estimated by Industry Canada to have generated direct annual revenues of more than $28 billion in 2014. The sector directly employs 76,000 people and is responsible for approximately 180,000 jobs across Canada. Highly integrated into global value chains, the industry is reported to export 80 percent of its production. Although focused on civil aviation, the industry also serves a remarkable diversity of market subsectors.
  • Global News | Foremost, Alberta reaches milestone in Canadian aviation history
    A crowd of drone industry leaders, politicians and residents gathered at the Foremost Aerodrome in south eastern Alberta Friday morning to watch the first Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) fly out of sight.It’s something Transport Canada would usually frown upon but at Canada’s first active Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) test range in Foremost, Alta. it’s completely legal.The first flight at the range is the result of over eight years of careful planning and coordinating between the Village of Foremost, Transport Canada and NAV Canada.
  • CHAT News | Foremost marks Canadian first for Drones
    For the first time ever in our country a drone was tested and evaluated in a sanctioned Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight Friday morning. And the milestone will enable commercial drone usage here to reach new heights.
  • Medicine Hat News | Delivery drones to be tested in Foremost (January 2017)
    Ontario-based Drone Delivery Canada announced Wednesday it will become one of the first firms to test its prototypes at the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems southest of Medicine Hat this winter.
  • CBC News | How a small southern Alberta town became a drone hotspot (January 2017)
    The area has around 500 people in it, making it ideal for drone testing. Sterling Cripps came up with the idea in 2008 after he saw how the technology was progressing. It took six-and-a-half years for his idea to become a reality.
  • CBC News | Drones for Canada Post mail delivery worth exploring, expert says (April 2016)
    Australia Post is testing drones to deliver mail. In a statement, the postal service said it plans to begin customer trials later this year. Experts suggest that a similar service could work in Canada.
  • Reuters | Alberta flies drones to find cause of epic Canadian wildfire (May 2016)
    Fire-ravaged Alberta will use drones to investigate the cause of a huge blaze that has scorched the Canadian province and displaced some 88,000 people.
  • Financial Post | Here come the drones – and the investment opportunities aren’t far behind (March 2016)
    Tony Di Benedetto, CEO of Drone Delivery Canada, says “We can operate our business with existing rules, but the rules are changing. The Federal Government allowed Amazon.com to test its drones in rural British Columbia, something it couldn’t get done with the FAA in the United States. So in some respects, Canada is more responsive and ahead of the U.S. in developing a working framework for commercial drone operators.”
  • Unmanned Systems Canada | Canadian Civil UAS Report 2014 – Feb 2015
    BVLOS Operations remain unattainable for now in Canada, but regulatory work is starting to focus on this barrier to many commercial UAS applications. The U.S. regulatory environment is less permissive than Canada’s, and numerous issues abound – but the pressure for the FAA to enact enabling regulations continues to grow.
  • AUVSI Economic Report 2013 Full
    While there are multiple uses for UAS, this research concludes that precision agriculture and public safety are the most promising commercial and civil markets. These two markets are thought to comprise approximately 90% of the known potential markets for UAS.

Map to Foremost Airspace