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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).

The Aerospace Regional Recovery Initiative— a Government of Canada program to support economic growth in the Prairies — awarded ARIS with $1.48 million to develop this unique facility as an innovative, applied research and education space. This space will facilitate technological enhancement, skills development and employment to support growth within the industry in Alberta, Canada and globally.

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

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.

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.

“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.


Media inquiries

Kate Laverdure, Communications

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