Drones in the Canadian Arctic

Unmanned aircraft (often called drones) will soon monitor Northern Canada’s safety, security and environment as part of the Arctic Unmanned Aircraft System Initiative.

We are conducting drone trials as we prepare to buy an unmanned aircraft system. This system will include one or more drones, a control station, and command and control links.

Why drones will be used

Drones can improve surveillance because they’re able to fly longer and farther than manned aircraft. This is vital during an environmental incident such as an oil spill. Drones reach areas manned aircraft cannot, cost less to operate and are more environmentally friendly.

Drones may be added to our fleet of planes in the National Aerial Surveillance Program. The program watches the Canadian Arctic to:

  • detect oil spills
  • survey ice and marine habitats
  • monitor activity on the oceans

Drone trials

A company called Arctic UAV is conducting the research and development trials with Transport Canada using a Sea Hunter drone. The trials will go on until March 31, 2019. We plan two, five-day test missions a year, with the option of two extra missions.

Flights are testing the use of remote pilot stations to fly drones outside pilots’ line-of-sight. The first trial took place at the UAS Centre of Excellence for Drones in Alma, QC, in June 2017.

These trials are helping us develop procedures, training and risk assessment tools for surveillance in northern Canada. Arctic UAV and Transport Canada have obtained all required permissions and meet the regulatory requirements for these trials, including flying under a Special Flight Operations Certificate.

Transport Canada approving a drone test range and launching test trials.

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