IN-FLIGHT Data, one of the most experienced operators in the world of advanced drones, in partnership with remote traffic management software leader AirMatrix, successfully conducted one of Earth’s first “SAIL 4” urban drone operations, while beyond the line of sight of the pilot, and over urban neighborhood populations.
“SAIL” refers to the combined complexity of a drone mission, from 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest). Only two other projects of this level are known to have been completed in the world to date, both in Europe.
Since March 2022, IN-FLIGHT Data has been testing, training, and preparing to conduct advanced aerial surveys within the city of Calgary through The City of Calgary’s Living Labs Program. This Program aims to offer up access to City assets for companies, researchers, and individuals to test and try ideas and products in a real-life environment, helping entrepreneurs bring big ideas to fruition and supporting investment in the local economy. In July and August 2022, the flight missions covered an operational area of about 9,000 hectares (or about 22,000 acres), entirely inside the city of Calgary with a population of about 1.2 million people.
Utilizing a highly-trained aircrew working with advanced operations certified drones and the latest in advanced radar and aerial surveillance technologies, including hardware and software, the flight crew was able to see all Calgary air traffic users for more than 30 km in all directions. The purpose of the aerial intelligence gathering was to measure and assess the quality and performance of the entire communications network fabric above an urban center including geolocation, cellular, radio, and many others. This understanding of the network performance is required to support future advancements in aviation. These advancements include amazing technical achievements like medical deliveries – such as human organs, medications, or devices. This mapping also supports the development and growth of advanced aerial mobility, including flying taxi services in urban environments.
Telecommunications companies, governments, regulators, airspace navigation service providers, and industry alike all need to understand how high-performance drone aircraft will safely navigate and communicate in the air above population centers. Think of it like when the Canadian Pacific Railway was built in the 1800’s – someone came before the rail lines to survey the route, level the land for the rail ties, and dig tunnels through mountains. That’s what this project and AirMatrix have achieved. Successfully mapping the urban network fabric in three dimensions to understand and assess how future aircraft and infrastructure can take advantage of these new high-performance networks, delivering future innovation to cities and their citizens.