Alberta’s aerospace and defence sector is soaring to new heights. This dynamic sector is recognized globally for its expertise in niche areas, such as robotics, defence electronics, space science and geomatics, and unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) — commonly known as drones. Nationally in this sector, Alberta ranks third by company size, fourth by number of companies and fourth by GDP contribution.
By the Numbers
- 16,000 Number of Albertans employed in the aerospace and defence sector
- $3.2 billion Amount contributed annually to provincial GDP from the aerospace and defence sector
- Annual revenue earned in Alberta by companies in the aerospace and defence industry
- 40% Production from the aerospace and defence sector that’s destined for export
Source: Government of Alberta, Statistics Canada, U.S. Census Bureau
The provincial government identified the aerospace and logistics sector as a key industry to support diversification in the Alberta Recovery Plan – a long-term strategy to build, diversify and create jobs that was initiated during the reopening phases amid the pandemic in mid-2020 – and is developing strategies to continue growing the sector, which already includes three major international airports; the headquarters for WestJet, one of Canada’s largest commercial airlines; the Foremost UAS Test Range, one of two such ranges in the country authorized by Transport Canada for beyond visual line of sight; and four Canadian Forces bases.
UAS Collaboration Tapped to Lead Traffic Management Trials
A year after a handful of Calgary-based unmanned aircraft system (UAS) companies teamed up to form SkySensus – a partnership to advance the development of beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) technology and applications – the collaboration group was selected to fulfill Canada’s official remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) traffic management (RTM) services trials in October 2020.
The RTM selection committee, a joint government and industry group co-led by Transport Canada and Nav Canada, was established to create a roadmap for the development of RTM services and safely manage the integration of remotely piloted aircraft into Canadian airspace.
SkySensus performs its trials at the Foremost UAS Test Range — a remote site in southeastern Alberta that’s more than 300 kilometres from Calgary. The test range is one of only two in Canada to be authorized for beyond visual line of sight UAS flying and is a partner in the collaboration, along with Aerium Analytics, Canadian UAVs and Peraton Canada.
Alberta Lands Portion of Boeing’s Billion-Dollar Investment
Through five agreements, Boeing and its Canadian aerospace partners are preparing to deliver $61 billion and nearly 250,000 jobs to the Canadian economy through the Royal Canadian Air Force’s selection of Boeing’s F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet for the Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP).
Two of the agreements with Canada’s five largest aerospace companies are with organizations headquartered in Calgary: Peraton Canada and Raytheon Canada. Boeing and Peraton currently work together on CF-18 upgrades. This work will expand to include a full range of Super Hornet avionic repair and overhaul work in Canada. Boeing and Raytheon Canada’s MOU outlines the implementation of large-scale supply chain and warehousing services at Cold Lake and Bagotville to support the new Super Hornet fleet, as well as potential depot avionics radar support.
Aerium Analytics Acquires Wildlife Management Technology
Calgary-based Aerium Analytics acquired the technology and intellectual property (IP) portfolio covering the RoBird technology to boost the company’s wildlife management service for airports.
Aerium is an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) service provider focused on complex operations, geospatial intelligence and data analytics. The company provides a variety of stand-alone or packaged UAS services, including flight services, wildlife management services, data processing and analysis, and enhanced data visualization.
Following the acquisition, Aerium began manufacturing RoBird units in Calgary. The company plans to expand this and other flapping wing flight technology using a pre-established technology development roadmap, and integrate it with its already broad portfolio, which includes GIS, machine learning, computer vision and sensor technology.