Now You See Me; Now You Don’t

Canada’s first beyond visual line of sight drone flight a success

Unmanned flight so recently seemed like a thing of futuristic movies and comic books. A few short years down the road and anyone can purchase a drone on the internet for a few hundred dollars. Although commonly known for their great panoramic selfies, small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) are actually a milestone for aviation and have some real civil and commercial applications.

Today, sUAS’ are used to hunt hurricanes, providing data that could revolutionize how we detect major storms. They fight forest fires, capitalizing on their ability to be airborne in minutes and operate in harsh environments where manned aircraft simply cannot fly. In the United States, sUASs are used to protect wildlife and create detailed maps of protected lands. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police use them for search and rescue, covering large areas and difficult terrain day or night.

Last month, CEA Corporate Partner  Aeryon Labs made the next leap in unmanned flight technology when their SkyRanger became the first ever to successfully complete Transport Canada’s Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight trials. BVLOS flight, where the operator can no longer maintain visual contact with the aircraft, will not only multiply the applications of sUASs but also make their current application more feasible and cost-effective since the pilot won’t have to continuously adjust their location.

Canada is among the few nations to be running BVLOS trials worldwide, placing Transport Canada among the leaders in establishing standards and guidelines to ensure the safe and legal operation of sUAVs. With today’s capabilities being the things of dreams only a few years ago, no one knows what the future holds for unmanned flight – but it is a safe bet that Aeryon Labs and Canada will be at its leading edge.