Iris Automation has launched the Canada Pathfinder Program, which aims help streamline the complex steps required to achieve Beyond Visual Light of Sight (BVLOS) approvals and experience.

Recognising the challenges organisations face when advancing commercial drone services to perform long distance and remotely piloted missions, Iris Automation has partnered with Foremost UAS Test Range in Alberta and the UAS Center of Excellence (CED) in Alma, Quebec.

These two companies are regarded as Canada’s leading remotely piloted aircraft system test facilities for support, training and proving BVLOS flight competency.

Gabrielle Wain, vice president of regulatory affairs at Iris Automation, said: “Our work in Canada, specifically with Transport Canada and the RPAS test sites, has demonstrated the incredible opportunities the country offers for advanced commercial drone solutions.

“We’re excited to partner with the CED Alma and Foremost as a way to bring the expertise required to local markets and help jumpstart the efforts for organisations keen to get started.” 

The Pathfinder program will include flight training, assistance gaining BVLOS approvals, a BVLOS safety system, engineering and regulatory support, and test center access.

It also delivers a baseline of the pre-requisites needed to achieve BVLOS advanced operations approvals from Transport Canada, expedited issuance of Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for BVLOS flights within test centers.

Other advantages include team training and standard procedures on how to perform safe BVLOS operations, and providing the BVLOS flight experience needed to apply for subsequent SFOC approvals.

William De Keiser, Director of the Cluster of Excellence at CED, said: “We see incredible interest in utilising commercial drone operations but concerns about how to launch a program safely, efficiently and in compliance with current regulations.

“Teaming with Iris Automation to provide this complete program will help many companies to finally embrace the potential of drone operations. As a Canadian pioneer in the civil and commercial RPAS industry, we are proud to continue to develop the technologies and skills that speed up the advent of safe and well-integrated BVLOS flight in Canadian airspace.” 

In October 2020, Transport Canada issued the second SFOC for (BVLOS flights in uncontrolled airspace to MVT Geo-Solutions, utilising infrastructure masking as well as Iris Automation’s onboard detect-and-avoid (DAA) solution.

Under this SFOC, MVT, CED and Iris Automation are partnering to conduct commercial missions over linear power lines in Alma, Quebec. Approval was granted to include the utilisation of Iris Automation’s DAA system, Casia, which provides commercial drones with automated collision avoidance maneuvers.

Iris Automation already participates in the Federal Aviation Administration’s BEYOND program to advance more complex UAS operations BVLOS in the US National Airspace System. 

The company’s CEO, Jon Damush, talked to eVTOL Insights last week as part of our popular podcast series. You can listen to episode by clicking here.