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The sky’s the limit as SAIT launches
Canada’s first remotely-piloted aviation
training centre


SAIT is ready to fill the talent demand in a growing international market and train the next heavy-lift drone pilots and technicians.

Calgary, AB (April 12, 2023) - The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) is pleased to announce the launch of Canada’s first remotely-piloted aviation training centre — an expansion within SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS) specifically focused on training, certification, research and development for heavy-lift and beyond-visual-line-of-sight Remotely-Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

ARIS worked closely with SAIT’s School of Transportation on this project and benefitted greatly from their knowledge, expertise and experiences.

Through academic partnerships, SAIT worked collaboratively with remotely-piloted aircraft systems manufacturers and aviation regulatory agencies in North America and Europe, including Swiss companies ANAVIASwissDrones and Dufour AeroSpaceand Velos Rotors based in Greece and the U.S., to be able to provide advanced training and certification for RPAS with payload capacities of 25 kilograms or more.

Left to right: SAIT employees Stephanie Lapointe, Sara Ashoori and Bryanna Paquette were
honoured as the first female flight instructors for heavy-lift, long-range drones in Canada.

“These skills are in high demand and SAIT is ready to provide a talent pool of qualified operators and technicians,” says Dr. David Ross, President and CEO, SAIT. “Driven by industry, companies are finding new ways to impact how Canadians conduct research and implement new applications for drone technology in diverse environments. The establishment of this centre will foster growth within the RPAS industry and position Alberta as a leader in the field.”

"ANAVIA, a leading manufacturer of high endurance unmanned VTOL helicopters, is proud to partner up with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. We are thrilled to collaborate with SAIT, a world-class education institution, to expand our service capabilities worldwide and take our unmanned helicopter technology to the next level," says Jon Andri Jörg, CEO and Founder, ANAVIA. "This partnership is a testament to our commitment to innovation and customer service, and we look forward to a strong collaboration with SAIT not only in the area of pilot training but research and development."  

Operators who require specialized training for RPAS pilots and mechanics, and certification of their products for operation will be able to address those needs at SAIT. Training will be comparable to that of an aerial vehicle, where pilots receive an intensive education to operate a specific aircraft. This course will also pave the way for the development of a commercial drone pilot license approved by aviation regulatory agencies.

To deliver world-class training at the centre, three SAIT employees, Sara Ashoori, Stephanie Lapointe and Bryanna Paquette, have completed the certification process and are the first female flight instructors for heavy-lift, long-range drones in Canada.

This initiative will also provide international exchange opportunities between SAIT and Swiss post-secondary institutions to train students and increase safety practices, as innovative ways to implement the use of heavy-lift RPAS are identified. Students at the facility will be able to obtain the required commercial operation certificate right here at SAIT.

SAIT was selected as one of the top five research college in Canada for 2022. The ranking was part of the annual Canada's Innovation Leaders report recognizing leading research universities, corporations, hospitals and colleges enhancing Canada's global competitiveness in the knowledge economy.


About SAIT

Established in 1916, SAIT was the first of its kind, publicly funded technical school in North America. As a global leader in applied education and research — serving nearly 40,000 students annually — SAIT offers certificate, diploma, post-diploma, apprenticeship and applied degree programs, baccalaureate degrees, corporate training and more than 1,000 continuing education courses, along with six dedicated, award-winning areas of research and capacity for new and emerging research. Curriculum and research priorities are developed through industry partnerships to ensure graduates have the skills and knowledge required to fulfill the demand for talent. SAIT is honoured to be recognized by Mediacorp Canada Inc. as one of Alberta’s Top Employers for 2023, and to be ranked fifth by Research Infosource Inc. in the Top 50 Research Colleges in Canada for 2022. CEOWORLD Magazine ranked the SAIT School of Business #51 on the list of Best Business Schools in the World for 2023, and the School of Hospitality and Tourism placed #15 on their list of Best Hospitality and Hotel Management Schools in the World — the only Canadian school listed — for 2023.

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Media inquiries

Kate Laverdure, Communications

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