Fly Buys: Drone Delivery Canada successfully completes test flights from Moosonee to Moose Factory

Share Button

Once thought of as pie-in-the-sky scenario, we could literally soon be seeing pies in the sky.

After being granted permission by Transport Canada to conduct Canada’s first commercial tests, Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) of Vaughn, Ontario, completed several successful trial flights between the communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory on November 16.

DDC drones achieved a 100% success rate, despite dealing with snow, strong winds and freezing temperatures. Drone Delivery Canada’s CEO Tony Di Benedetto believes that this is only the beginning, and hopes to bring his company’s services to Canada’s remote communities who he thinks stand to benefit from it the most.

The goal is to establish a drone delivery service that would bring food, medical supplies and other necessities to the island of Moose Factory, where access is severely limited during spring breakup and in the fall until the ice is thick enough to drive across.

“When we looked at this technology and these communities and the struggles that they face, we thought that this would be a great fit,” said Di Benedetto. “And the more we started engaging with them and understanding their culture and way of life it became very evident to us that it’s a perfect fit. It’s not about trying to create a gimmick or create hype – these people have a real problem.”

Di Benedetto sees unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as an infrastructure solution. A way for communities that rely on boats, airplanes, helicopters and ice roads to cut down their costs and increase their accessibility to goods and medical supplies. He says the company was founded in 2014 to build a drone delivery platform that could be utilized within Canadian geography – specifically to service northern communities.

“If we can simplify the way that they can transport and access goods I think we can reduce costs, increase quality of life, bring a high-tech industry to their area and pool human capital that is being under-utilized,” he explained. “We’re looking to create partnerships with the local communities. We build the platform and bring the technology, but you still need [local] people to make this all happen.”

The company has developed an advanced telecommunications system to operate and manage their fleet remotely. It spent the last three years working with Canadian regulators and engineers to understand how to allow a drone to safely carry cargo.

Di Benedetto stressed the importance of compliance and collaboration with Transport Canada every step of the way. He noted that while public safety is the primary concern, the technology has huge potential.

“There’s a lot of red tape and lot of bureaucracy to this but at the end of the day, it’s all about safety,” he said. “The starting point today is 10 pounds – we’re taking baby steps. Over time we’ll slowly start increasing [the payload]. The biggest drone we’re looking at can carry approximately 3000 pounds – they’re bigger units and they can carry some serious weight.”

To be clear, commercial UAVs can’t fly wherever they want. Even though DDC’s planes don’t have any pilots, the drones will travel along existing flight paths and be strictly regulated by Transport Canada.

“To date we’ve obtained a multiple flight testing certificates and we’re moving forward to obtain our compliance status operator certificate,” said Di Benedetto. “With that we’ll become a federally regulated entity, and we’ll have to adhere to the same safety and quality standards as any other airline.”

Ultimately, Drone Delivery Canada’s goal is to see their service put both Canada and its remote First Nations at the forefront of a cutting-edge industry.

“Our goal is a national rollout and we have a lot of interest from outside of Canada as well,” said Di Benedetto. “Around the world people are facing the same problems, and with this type of technology we’re putting Canada on the map as a global leader. We see this as an infrastructure solution for Canada’s north.”

Share Button

Comments are closed.