Ground Control

Aerium Analytics is pushing Alberta’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry to new heights and is taking advantage of the airspace above Alberta’s capital city to do it.

The Calgary-based UAV services provider booked time with the Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre (AATC) at the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) to focus on the growth and development of UAV technologies in the province.

For one research project, Aerium has partnered with Netherlands-based Clear Flight Solutions to help EIA safely integrate UAV services into its daily operations. Specifically, Aerium and Clear Flight Solutions provide mapping and inspections to support the airport’s maintenance programs (including its wildlife management plan) and future economic development efforts.

“We are proud to have a partnership with Clear Flight Solutions that allows us to actually translate innovation into value,” said Tim Bibby, vice-president of corporate and business development at Aerium, when the project was announced in 2017.

The AATC opened its doors in 2015 and is a training hub dedicated to improving flight safety through synthetic flight training, as well as a place for research and innovation. The training centre was established by a consortium that included EIA and Edmonton Economic Development Corp., along with aviation companies Canadian North and Canadian Helicopters. In addition to establishing the AATC as a place for simulator training and research, the consortium also hoped to diversify Edmonton’s economy and create a knowledge-based cluster of economic activity.

It didn’t take long for that mission to take off and draw other organizations to the AATC.

In 2017, construction began on a state-of-the-art 20,000-square-foot educational facility for the Alberta Motor Transport Association. The centre is now fully operational and includes an adjacent five-acre test-driving track, as well as a driving simulator for training that enables AMTA to conduct complete training for commercial drivers, all in one location.

“Our simulator provides group training for a wide variety of transportation, from driving a school bus to aggregate hauling,” says AMTA president Chris Nash. “We’re currently working on a program for cement haulers, and many more programs will be considered in the future.”

The AMTA facility is the third component of the AATC: Calgary-based airline Canadian North operates a 737 training simulator in the airport’s Cargo Village and HNZ Topflight operates a helicopter training simulator in the main terminal building.

“We’re like the last piece of the puzzle that makes AATC the destination for transportation training,” says Nash. “This not only benefits Albertans, but the transportation sector as 
a whole.”