It’s being called a major step forward in the modernization of supply chains — the Edmonton International Airport will soon be using drones to deliver cargo packages.
In a Canadian first, EIA used a Sparrow drone from Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) to fly from the airport to a site in Leduc County.
Read more: Toronto hospital network, Quebec company behind world’s first delivery of lungs by drone
This was the first time an operation like this was approved by Nav Canada. The airspace around all airports is highly restricted for safety reasons, and drone activity is forbidden without proper authorization. The airport said it and DDC spent months working to create new approvals and safety procedures to make these types of operations possible.
EIA said the Sparrow drone will soon be carrying commercial cargo packages on behalf of clients Ziing Final Mile and Apple Express, with Air Canada Cargo operating as the official agent for DDC.
“Drone operations at airports will play a vital role in the future of cargo connectivity,” Air Canada Cargo vice-president Jason Berry said.
Read more: Edmonton drone incident 1 of 130 sightings reported by pilots in the last year
The airport believes this could be the next step in delivering things like medical products and sensitive cargo to both populated areas like Edmonton, as well as to remote, Indigenous and northern communities.
The airport also believes drones could also be used in the final kilometres of certain journeys, to help reduce vehicle traffic and emissions.
“At EIA our mandate is to support economic growth and diversification in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region,” said Myron Keehn, vice-president of air service and business development at EIA.
“Our national leadership in integrating drone technologies at an airport is giving birth to a new sector in drone logistics. The integration of these sustainable technologies is the precursor to the enablement of advanced air mobility, and it lowers barriers for the movement of goods and in the future, people.”
Read more: It’s a bird… it’s a plane… It’ll be a drone that looks like a bird at Edmonton’s airport
The airport put on demonstration for members of the media Friday morning, showcasing the drone and how packages are stored.
“We are entering a unique time in transportation history as we move towards a future that suggests an entirely new landscape of opportunities for the global supply chain,” DDC president and CEO Michael Zahra added.
EIA said residents and drivers near the airport may see the Sparrow drone flying across the QEII Highway in the coming months, travelling between the airport and a landing location in Leduc County.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.