Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Drone Transport Initiative.

Who can I contact if I have questions about the project?

Sandy Lee, Senior Project Manager, sandy.lee@ubc.ca.

How long will the project run?

The official launch date of the project is October 13, 2021, and flights are planned to run until the last few months of 2022, to test the four-season capabilities of the drone. Test flights will be conducted in the weeks leading up to the launch date from September 27, 2021 until October 13, 2021.

Will drones deliver goods to people’s homes?

No. The drones will only take-off and land at the two designated landing sites – one in Stellaquo and one in Fraser Lake.

The landing site in Stellaquo is located across from the Hall. The location of the landing site is illustrated in this Google maps image.

The landing site in the Village of Fraser Lake is at the White Swan Park. The location of the landing site is illustrated in this Google maps image.

What will be transported on the drones?

The project will take a phased implementation. At first, the drone will carry supplies and “dummy” samples standing in for real test samples and medications. Once early flights are successful, the project can transition to transporting “real” lab samples and medications.

Who is involved in this project?

This project is being run by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. Local partners include the Stellat’en First Nation Chief and Council, the Village of Fraser Lake municipality, the local school and school district.

Other organizational partners include First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), Life Labs, the Rural Coordination Centre of British Columbia (RCCbc), and UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The drone technology is provided and operated by Drone Delivery Canada (DDC).

Click here to learn more about the project team and partners.

What will happen when the project ends?

At the end of the project, the two landing sites will be removed and the land will be restored to its original state.

Will drones stay in community after the project ends?

No. This is a pilot, proof-of-concept project and is only funded for a fixed period of time. Information collected from this project will be used to provide information and support for future uses of drone technology in closing access gaps for rural and remote communities, including First Nations communities.

Will the drone be flying at specific times or day?

Yes. If weather and other conditions permit, drone flights will only take place between 9:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday.

Will the drone have cameras on it?

No. The drone does not have any cameras or other surveillance technology on it. The drone is only designed for delivery applications.

Will the drone be flying over people’s homes or businesses?

No. The drone will fly on a pre-programmed and fixed flight path. The majority of the flight path is over the water of Fraser Lake. The flight path is illustrated in this image.

How fast does the drone fly?

The drone will fly at approximately 54 km per hour.

How long does the drone take to fly between the Village of Fraser Lake and Stellaquo?

The flight will take about 7 minutes. Flight times can vary based on things like wind and other factors.

At what altitude does the drone typically fly?

200-300 feet above the water and ground.

What size/weight of package can be transported using the drone?

The drone can carry up to 9 lbs (4 kgs). The package cannot exceed 12 inches long x 9 inches wide x 6 inches tall.

What are the operating conditions for the drone to fly?

The drone can operate day or night, and in weather conditions that include moderate rain, snow and wind.

Who is controlling the drone?

The system safely runs unmanned, automatically, and is monitored from the DDC Operations Control Centre in Vaughan, Ontario. All in compliance with government regulations.

How does the drone communicate with DDC’s Operation Control Centre?

The drone and landing site (DroneSpot™) communicate over multiple forms of communication including cellular signals and VHF frequency.

Who are the safety and operational personnel on the ground in Stellaquo and Fraser Lake?

  • Cargo / drone handlers: One cargo / drone handler will be located at each landing site. They are responsible for bringing cargo to the landing sites (DroneSpots™), loading and unloading cargo into the drone, and may perform pre-flight inspections and other maintenance tasks as applicable.
  • Safety pilots: There is one Safety Pilot at each landing sit. The safety pilot is present to ensure everything is operating as designed and can take over if necessary.
  • Visual Observer: This person is a trained crew member who assists the pilot in ensuring the safe conduct of a flight under visual line-of-sight. The Visual Observer will be positioned outside at a location where they can see the drone during the entire duration of its flight between the landing site in Stellaquo and the landing site in Fraser Lake.

Will the drone flights affect other air traffic such as float planes?

Generally, the drones fly well below altitudes of other types of manned aircraft. However, DDC’s system constantly monitors all commercial aircraft activity, and manned aircraft always have the right of way. Our team conducted a visit to Stellaquo and Fraser Lake to confirm with local safety personnel and the float plane operator that all drone flights will be conducted in accordance with all safety procedures.

Are the drone flights allowed in Canada?

Yes. All operations are conducted in accordance with the Canadian Aviation Regulations and Transport Canada flight authorizations.

Will the drone flights impact the wildlife in the area?

Past projects similar to this one have not experienced any negative interactions between drones and local wildlife. Generally, given the relatively large size of DDC’s Sparrowdrone, birds and other small animals typically stay clear of the drone while it is in flight. The drone flies at a low enough speed that birds can avoid it if necessary. Additionally, security cameras are mounted at both landing sites (DroneSpot™), pointing only at the landing area. The video feed will be monitored by the Operations Control Centre to ensure the take-off / landing area is clear of both people and wildlife prior to take-off / landing.

What happens if a drone crashes?

There are a number of technical failsafe procedures built right into the drone’s design. In the highly unlikely event of an incident involving the drone, Drone Delivery Canada, as the operator of the service, has an established Emergency Response Procedure. DDC coordinates the response with local agencies such as the Fire Chief, RCMP, municipality staff, and band staff to ensure a comprehensive safety response plan, should it be required. Local agencies receive training and familiarization with the drone, emergency procedures, and a technical review, provided by Drone Delivery Canada.

Further, in order to minimize the impact of the drone flights themselves or an extremely unlikely crash, the flight path has been designed to avoid flying over people or buildings. If a drone were to crash, the local safety response team is trained to deactivate and safely retrieve the drone.