A ‘Canadian First’ for Drone Flights at Edmonton International Airport

  • First step towards drone logistics operations within restricted airspace

Canada’s first drone delivery operation from within an airport has taken off from Edmonton International Airport (EIA), helping chart a new path for this emerging industry.

drone edmonton international airport
The initial flights will create a template for future operations.

A Sparrow drone from Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) successfully flew from the EIA Airport Operations Facility to a site in Leduc County, marking the first time this activity has been approved by NAV CANADA. This logistics operation is a major step towards the future modernization of supply chains. The Sparrow drone will soon be carrying commercial cargo packages on behalf of clients Ziing Final Mile and Apple Express. Air Canada Cargo is operating as the official agent for DDC.

Myron Keehn, Vice-President, Air Service and Business Development, EIA, said:

At EIA our mandate is to support economic growth and diversification in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Our national leadership in integrating drone technologies at an airport is giving birth to a new sector in drone logistics. The integration of these sustainable technologies is the precursor to the enablement of advanced air mobility, and it lowers barriers for the movement of goods and in the future, people. Congratulations to all the partners involved in this ground-breaking event and who strive for an innovative future of drone operations.

Airspace around all Canadian airports is highly restricted for safety and any drone activity is forbidden without proper authorization. EIA and DDC have spent significant months working with NAV CANADA to create new approvals and safety procedures to make this and future flights possible. These initial flights will create the template for future operations that could include deliveries into populated areas, such as Edmonton or other major centres, as well as Indigenous communities and Northern communities.

Jason Berry, Vice-President, Air Canada Cargo, said:

Air Canada Cargo is privileged to be the catalyst for bringing the different parties together for this historic initiative. Drone operations at airports will play a vital role in the future of cargo connectivity. Congratulations to the team at Edmonton International Airport for being true visionaries and to Apple Express and Ziing Final Mile for believing in the future of the drone industry.

Example of Drone Usage

As the technology and safety requirements continue to evolve, possible future usages include:

  • Delivery of high-value and timely medical products
  • Secure transport of sensitive cargo
  • Delivery to remote locations, or locations where vehicle access has been disrupted
  • Using zero-emission drones to conduct final-kilometre delivery services, helping reduce vehicle traffic and emissions

Officials in Leduc County have provided tremendous support for the project, helping supply a location in the Pat Wilson Memorial Park within the Nisku business district, as the delivery location from EIA. In the coming months, drivers and residents near the airport may see the Sparrow drone flying across the Queen Elizabeth II Highway between the airport and the secondary landing location in Leduc County. All flights are done with authorization and cooperation from NAV CANADA.

Tanni Doblanko, Mayor, Leduc County, said:

We are incredibly proud to partner with Edmonton International Airport on this drone delivery operation. Leduc County has supported the airport on a variety of investment and business opportunities, and we continually work together to advance diversification and economic development in the region. This project is both innovative and forward thinking, and Leduc County is excited to be the first municipality to host this type of service.

To ensure public safety, some of the restrictions on the drone flights include that it cannot fly over populated areas, and its flying height is limited. As the project continues to be tested and further safety requirements are met, the goal is conduct longer flights that can become delivery flight paths.

EIA Drone Facts

Other examples of drone usage at Edmonton International Airport include:

For more information on this project and drone operations at EIA please visit flyeia.com/dronecargo.

This article was originally published by Edmonton Airports.


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