Using the Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift (HL) RPAS drone, both missions were to conduct aerial surveys of whales in Arctic waters. BVLOS permits are issue by Transport Canada and are rare and only issued to experienced RPAS companies. Arctic UAV’s chairperson & CEO Kirt Ejesiak says ‘We want to thank the leadership at Transport Canada for providing the framework for a northern-based drone company to lead in Canada with these important conservation missions’. Ejesiak adds ‘We see BVLOS trial missions in the Arctic using RPAS an important step for safe Arctic RPAS operations and he sees the eventual increase is drone use for conservation & safety purposes in the near future.’
One BVLOS trial permit received was for a Government customer counting beluga whales near Pangnirtung. The second BVLOS trial permit was issued for an Industry leader to monitor distribution and movements of Narwhal populations near Pond Inlet. Both missions received the support of local leaders and highlight our approach of working together and point to the need for a better way to conduct aerial surveys in remote and Arctic locations. Using an electric RPAS unit is virtually silent at 1500 feet and has no disturbance effect on the animals being surveyed.
Leading both missions was Glenn Williams- the Chief of Operations for Arctic UAV Inc. and based in Iqaluit. He was joined by Keane Sudlovenick- a 21-year-old locally trained RPAS pilot. Both men are highly experienced outdoorsmen and have been operated RPAS (drones) safely since 2015. Ejesiak adds ‘We must continue to develop BVLOS capabilities & skills to advance the drone industry in Canada in a safe and diligent manner as aviation did in the past. I see a bright future for drone operations in the Arctic.’