By Sarah Whittaker
Flying delivery drones successfully beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) is a major milestone for the drone transport industry, and one which Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) are now one step closer towards. Since announcing their expansion of testing into the United State of America in January of this year, DDC have now completed their first ever test flights in that country.
Approval for testing the BVLOS capabilities of their Sparrow X1000 at New York Griffiss International Airport UAS Test Site was granted by the FAA after testing at the UAS Centre of Excellence located in Alma, Quebec. Griffiss International Airport is one of seven FAA designated UAS test sites that provide BVLOS research and development capabilities and long-distance testing with an active airspace.
Paul Di Benedetto, Chief Technology Officer of Drone Delivery Canada, commented on the success of the flights. “Testing at Griffiss was a natural extension for continued progress with our platform in a BVLOS non-segregated airspace environment. An active runway with large aircraft, helicopters, and general aviation aircraft is the latest advancement to our operations team airspace integration efforts and a progression from the knowledge learned during DDC’s Moosonee operations, which remain ongoing. We are pleased to report 100% success rate with all our test fights and look forward to our expansion into the USA which has now begun in earnest.”
“I am pleased that Drone Delivery Canada’s testing at Griffiss International Airport was a success and that the company chose our test site for its first ever operation in the United States,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “This partnership is further evidence of how Oneida County is leading the way in the advancement and development of the UAS industry.”
The Transport Canada compliant Sparrow Drone, used to conduct the tests has a maximum lifting capacity of 5kg. In addition to the hardware, DDC’s proprietary FLYTE management system and DroneSpot™ Technology formed the core of the company’s mission control operations. Speaking with Mark Bunting of Capital Ideas last year, Di Benedetto spoke about DDC’s software solutions and their potential within the USA.
“Our strategy has always been focused on the software and the systems, versus the hardware and what we’re were slowly starting to see is that we have a real advantage in North America, if not globally, based on the technology we’ve been able to assemble and test within the Canadian geography.”
The system approaches the difficulties of BVLOS drone flights in two ways. DDC’s FLYTE management system is designed to provide secure, controlled launch and landing areas, while the real time data provided by the DroneSpot™ supports aircraft awareness, weight and balance monitoring, as well as localized weather and other data that are necessary for safe public operations.
“Testing at Griffiss was a significant milestone for DDC and the beginning of our USA expansion program. In addition to our continued advancements in Canada, we look forward to continued success in the USA and are pleased to report the team has been working very hard working alongside key stakeholders including the Federal Regulator. We would like to thank all stakeholders, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and a special thanks to the Griffiss International Airport, the Oneida Country Department of Aviation and the NUAIR Alliance for assisting us with our international development efforts,” commented Mark Wuennenberg, Vice President Regulatory Affairs of Drone Delivery Canada.
So far, Drone Delivery Canada have tested in a number of diverse environments including in the freezing conditions of the northern regions of Canada at the Moose Factory and Moosonee communities, late last year.
DDC intends to continue testing in multiple, complex and diverse environments, so that they may successfully integrate with existing air operators, ensuring compliance with airspace policies and all the while with public safety in mind.