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.

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.
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.

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 ANAVIA, SwissDrones and Dufour AeroSpace, and Velos Rotors based in Greece and the U.S., to be able to provide advanced training and certification for RPAS with pay load 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.

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SAIT is located on the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, the Piikani, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Îyârhe Nakoda of Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney.

We are situated in an area the Blackfoot tribes traditionally called Moh’kinsstis, where the Bow River meets the Elbow River. We now call it the city of Calgary, which is also home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.