Following the announcement of the project earlier in 2019, the construction of Qualia, Canada’s first-ever Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), is well underway.

The Mayor of Alma, Marc Asselin, accompanied by the President of the UAS Centre of Excellence (CED), Alain Fortin, immortalized the start of construction with a symbolic shovelful of earth at the Alma construction site in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean (Quebec, Canada). “The RPAS industry is in constant evolution, with new companies being created every day. Regulations are constantly changing, and it is a challenge for most of them to stay abreast of current standards and regulations, hence the importance of a site like Qualia,” explains CED’s president, Alain Fortin.

Qualia, which will be operational in the spring of 2021, will be structured in three parts: a test site for R&D, a UAV academy offering training programmes in sectors related to drones, such as maintenance, manufacturing, image and data analysis, operators of embedded systems, pilot training, systems engineers, etc., as well as a qualification centre offering companies the possibility of obtaining a seal confirming their compliance with requirements in various sectors such as public safety, civil security, agriculture, forestry and mining; the oil and gas industry and hydroelectricity.

This project, valued at $2.4 million, will enable companies in the civil and commercial RPAS sector to validate, in real-life situations, their products and services as well as the results of R&D activities associated with the design of UAV systems.

“This reconstruction of various infrastructures, whose specifications and parameters were established in collaboration with the various industries, will allow companies to test their platforms, train their personnel and qualify their company in their field of expertise through 20 realistic scenarios,” explains Mr. Fortin.

These scenarios are divided into three categories: public safety, natural resources and energy resources:

Public Safety–  Analysis of spills of hazardous and dangerous products;-  Collisions & lane departure;-  Firefighting;-  Fire detection;-  Building inspection;-  Inspection of roads and railways;-   Research and identification in urban areas;-   Search and Rescue
Natural Resources–  Agriculture;-  Volume calculation;-  High water stages;-  Canopy measurement
Energy Resources–  Leak detection;-  Inspection of power lines

Qualia was made possible thanks to the matching financial contribution from the Government of Canada through the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation programme of Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, the Government of Quebec through the Programme de soutien aux organismes de recherche et d’innovation following the 2016–2026 Québec Aerospace Strategy, which is aimed at developing the RPAS sector and its civil applications, and the City of Alma.

About the UAS Centre of Excellence (CED):

The UAS Centre of Excellence (CED) is a group of members whose mission is to develop an international centre of expertise, services and innovation in the design, application and operation of RPAS. The CED, which has a large international network of partners, manages the civil and commercial RPAS niche of excellence and manages the flight zones dedicated to drone operations. For more information on the CED or to find out the latest developments, please visit

By Press