UVic aerospace centre flies high with funding boost


- Suzanne Ahearne

Forest fire management will be one of the applications of new technology being developed by University of Victoria’s Centre for Aerospace Research (CfAR) which received new funding from Western Economic Diversification this month.

In the three years since its inception, the centre has become a Canadian leader in Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) research, design and flight testing.

CfAR-developed aircraft, called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs, and customized payloads are currently undergoing design and testing for a wide variety of applications, such as wildlife monitoring, agriculture, mining exploration using remote sensing technology, and search and rescue.

The new federal funding ($527,000) gives the centre the capacity to continue the development, commercialization and certification of next-generation UAVs.

CfAR is led by Canada Research Chair and centre director Afzal Suleman of UVic's Faculty of Engineering. The team includes three engineering faculty, and currently there are 20 engineers, graduate and undergrad students being trained in this emerging field.

In Canada, some of the centre's industrial partners include Bombardier Aerospace, Meggitt Training Systems Canada, Rigid Robotics, Terra Remote Sensing, Brican Flight Systems, and internationally, UVic CfAR has been collaborating with Boeing (USA).

Unmanned aircraft technology (which encompasses the aircraft itself, as well as flight and ground control systems, and on-board payloads) is the fastest growing sector in the aerospace industry in Canada. At present, it is illegal for unmanned aircraft to be flown out of the line of sight of operators due to privacy and safety concerns. To commercialize these products, certification and regulation are a primary concern to industry. For this reason, another priority of the centre is to develop standardized tests to assist pilot-operators to certify their aircraft with Transport Canada.

In addition to the Western Economic Diversification funding, the centre has received an additional $1.5 million in cash and in-kind funding from industry, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada Foundation for Innovation and BC Knowledge Development Fund in the current fiscal year.


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Keywords: funding, research, Centre for Aerospace Research

People: Afzal Suleman

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