Edmonton International Airport is a Canadian leader in the integration of and use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS also commonly called drones) at airports.
Safety and security is our first priority and all drone operations at EIA are carefully managed in partnership with federal regulators, Transport Canada and Nav Canada, as well as the RPAS companies involved. The use of recreational drones is prohibited at or within 13 km (7 Nautical Miles) of the airport. For more information on legal requirements to operate drones, please click here.
Drones are used for a variety of special programs, such as scaring away birds and wildlife with a falcon-shaped Robird drone. EIA has also employed this technology for LIDAR scans of our runways to detect safety and maintenance issues before they arise. EIA was also the first Canadian airport to have drones operate at night, to enhance aircraft landing safety. We will also be the future home of a testing site for drone cargo delivery services with the goal of becoming the hub for this service for western Canada in the coming years.
Embracing this technology at EIA creates jobs, fosters innovation and technology growth and helps keep us at the leading edge of future aviation trends and technology. This is why EIA has been proud to partner with technology companies as part of the Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre to advance RPAS and related technologies, including the design and manufacture of drones at EIA. AATC is also part of the effort to make the Edmonton Metropolitan Region into a Living Lab where technology and regulations can be advanced together.
Airports provide a unique ecosystem with specific requirements that RPAS are uniquely developed to solve. RPAS cargo delivery can be tailored for scheduling, amounts and types of cargo to be carried, locations to be serviced and efficiency of routings. RPAS may also be in a better position to transport certain types of cargo, such as dangerous or temperature controlled goods, and to address security of cargo which could include bonded security requirements. As an example, high-value assets arriving at the live-side of an airport could be transported over specific routes without ever having to leave the secure area or using ground transportation.
For more information on the companies involved visit:
Regulatory requirements for operating RPAS at EIA (in addition to having EIA approval)
- Part IX of the current Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) permits the use of unmanned aircraft, under visual-line-of-site operations, in an aerodrome environment. An advanced pilots’ certificate is required to fly within controlled airspace, which requires passing of a written test as well as review by an approved flight reviewer.
- The type of aerodrome and the category of surrounding airspace determine the applicable operating rules, pilot licencing requirements and aircraft safety standards. For those aerodromes in controlled airspace, prior approval is also required from NAV CANADA.
- The existing CARs Part IX, and the accompanying Advisory Circular, also address the required processes for gaining approval to conduct beyond visual-line-of-sight operations in various environments, including around aerodromes. In these situations, the RPAS operator is required to provide Transport Canada, a completed risks assessment or safety case showing that the planned operation can be conducted to an acceptable level of safety.
- Currently, the use of recreational drones is prohibited at or within 13km (7 nautical miles) of the airport.
- Anyone wanting to fly within the control zone submits a request through NAV Canada who will then notify EIA.
- The NAV Canada RPAS requirements are at: https://www.navcanada.ca/EN/products-and-services/RPAS/Pages/default.aspx .
- The Nav Canada site selection tool is at: https://nrc.canada.ca/en/drone-tool/
What are the next steps in the aviation community (i.e. Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS), cargo delivery, surveying, scanning)?
- Continue the safe integration of RPAS operation at airports and into the current management of air traffic.
- Continue to educate the public on the safe use of drones in all airspace, especially controlled airspace.
- Develop technologies that identify non-cooperative RPAS incursions (airspace awareness) to help keep our passengers and clients safe.
- BVLOS operations, where the controller cannot see the RPAS. Technologies, such as detect-and-avoid capabilities (whether airborne or ground based) will need to be proven to ensure the safety of other airspace users. DDC is working towards these goals through the development of a Ground Based Sense and Avoid capability which will be used to ensure that their unmanned aircraft can be safely separated from traditional aircraft.
- In Canada, the RPAS industry continues to advance thanks to the innovation from companies like EIA’s partners, and by having a regulator willing to work with the industry to foster an environment where safe RPAS operations can be conducted. Transport Canada has supported the continued advancement of the RPAS industry’s capabilities through various trials and pilot projects, which provide the regulator critical data needed to develop effective regulations.
Airport City and AATC
- EIA’s mandate is to drive economic growth in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region through air service and commercial development. So economic development and diversification are the main reasons why EIA has helped to advance RPAS and related technologies in partnership with technology companies as part of the Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre (AATC), including the design and manufacture of RPAS at EIA.
- Airport City is also part of the effort to make the Edmonton Metropolitan Region into a Living Lab where technology and regulations can be advanced together. Its activities are centred around the Alberta Aerospace & Technology Centre, where the goal is to build a cluster of activity in aerospace and technology, which will serve as a centre for R&D innovation in aviation.
- Flight simulators & training, ‘Managing wildlife with robots, Remote operated vehicles and Fuel innovation are a few of the areas being explored under the umbrella of EIA’s innovation lab.
- EIA has teamed up with advanced technology development group, Alberta Centre for Advanced Micro-Nano-Technology Products (ACAMP), to help entrepreneurs move their ideas from proof-of-concept to manufactured product by providing access to engineers, technology experts, specialised equipment, and industry acumen.
- EIA reduces the risk away for innovation pioneers by offering flexible lease contracts