Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium attends Dubai Airshow

Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium attends Dubai Airshow

By Scott Simmie


Ever been to a *really* big airshow?

The two best-known take place in the UK and France on alternating years. One is the Farnborough International Airshow (been there twice), and the Paris Airshow (Salon du Bourget). From the biggest passenger-carrying jets in the world down to the tiniest fastener, these massive events include every element in the aerospace supply chain (and then some). From Airbus to Rolls Royce, in-flight entertainment systems to military-spec rivets, you’ll find them there.

One of the other major global events is the Dubai Airshow. With more than 1400 exhibitors and 180+ aircraft on flying or static display, it’s also a must-attend.

This year’s event took place November 13-17, and one of the key themes was the rapidly approaching era of Advanced Air Mobility. That’s the world where transformative and sustainable aircraft (including air taxis) will play a role in transporting goods and people both within major cities and to smaller communities not currently served by traditional aviation. Many if not most of these new aircraft are being designed for eventual autonomous operation.

Canada, of course, has a stake in this new world. In fact, we recently wrote about the purchase by Vancouver’s Helijet of an eVTOL aircraft (a BETA Technologies ALIA 250) for crewed operations in British Columbia. So we were pleased to see that the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) attended – and presented at – the Dubai Airshow.


Dubai AAM



Formed in 2019, CAAM is the national voice representing Advanced Air Mobility in Canada. With 70+ members spanning industry, government, academia and associations, CAAM plays a crucial role in this emerging sector. Its stated vision is to create “A unified national strategy for Zero-Emission Advanced Air Mobility with regional implementation in Canada.” And its mission?

“To build an ecosystem of national collaboration in creating and operating a sustainable, equitable and profitable Advanced Air Mobility industry in Canada.”

CAAM is led by Executive Director JR Hammond, who represented the organization – and by extension, Canada – at the Dubai Airshow. We asked him for his own short definition of AAM:

“It changes our concept of how we move people, goods and resources across our cities and regions. With these new aircraft we no longer are constrained to just railways, marine or ground transportation,” he says.

Dubai was Hammond’s first international air show – and it left quite an impression.

“We were blown away not only by the representation of Advanced Air Mobility in the RPAS sector, but how leading organizations globally – Asia, North America and Europe – brought aircraft and technology to the Middle East to showcase. This bubbling of activity globally is only expediting our operational pathways.”

Below: The Archer Aviation Midnight, an electric AAM vehicle capable of flying 160 kilometres (100 miles). The aircraft has been optimized for shorter flights of roughly 32 km (20 miles) with a charge time between flights of just 12 minutes.





The spark for the trip came from CAAM’s national board, says Hammond. It suggested to the executive team it would be worthwhile for the organization to have a greater presence at global gatherings – and specifically at air shows.

While a lot of AAM attention focuses on the impressive emerging aircraft technology, Hammond says there are a number of pillars that must be aligned for Advanced Air Mobility to truly take flight. Obviously, there’s the Uncrewed Traffic Management aspect – the safe integration of pilotless aircraft into traditional airspace.

But there are many other challenges CAAM has been exploring and believes are integral to the future success of AAM.

“There’s a lot of other pillars that countries and different delegations are not focusing on – like the insurance industry, or the cyber security aspect of communication. So we were tasked by the board to showcase Canada – how we can bring all of these different pillars to the global scale. A lot of these nations are not doing this and they’re seeing the challenges.

“The great example given is United Arab Emirates, which arguably is one of the leaders in AAM with their Drone Up operations… They have not focused on how they’re going to integrate this into conventional airspace, how they’re going to bring this on with different telecommunication providers and insurance providers. That’s what we’re focusing on right now and they were learning a lot from us.”

Below: JR Hammond (holding microphone) onstage during one of two sessions where he was a panelist. The first was “Pathway to eVTOL commercialisation” and the second was “Advanced aerial cargo delivery advancements.”


JR Hammond CAAM Dubai



There’s a lot of work ahead.

Obviously, there’s the development, validation and certification of aircraft. Though there are some full-scale designs now operational (such as the EHang EH216-S, which was certified in October by the Civil Aviation Administration of China), many companies are still working with scale models or Minimum Viable Products. Certification through agencies like the FAA is, by necessity, a methodical and demanding process that takes years.

There’s also the question of how to safely integrate these new vehicles into airspace currently used by traditional aviation. Will there be specific low-level flight corridors set aside for smaller AAM aircraft/RPAS in urban settings? (Mostly likely yes, and almost certainly in Canada and the US. In fact, InDro is involved in some of the research and test flights for this).

Will there be rules around where and how many Vertiports (takeoff and landing sites for eVTOL aircraft) can be established in cities? Will certain use-cases, such as urgent medical deliveries, take priority in the early phase of adoption to build public acceptance? What role in standards and operational guidelines will the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) ultimately play?

And then there are those pillars JR Hammond alluded to: Communications, insurance, cyber-security and more.

It sounds like a lot to overcome – and it is. And that’s why conversations and panels like those which took place in Dubai are so critical as the move to AAM begins to accelerate.

“Even though we are all at different stages, the amount of collaboration already occurring in saying: ‘We need to solve this together’ was by far greater than anything than I’ve ever seen before in aerospace or business,” says Hammond.

So the commitment and collaborative spirit is there.

Dubai Hammond AAM



There is a consensus, particularly with passenger-carrying aircraft, that the jump to autonomous flight won’t be immediate. There will be a graduated approach, starting with a pilot on board those aircraft. It’s anticipated early flights will be manually controlled, then monitored by a pilot still capable of taking over if required.

“In terms of autonomy, any market entry piece will happen with a pilot on board with full control and an augmented system similar to the autopilot systems that we have on commercial airliners today,” says Hammond.

“Then, as regulations and social acceptance and – of course – our policies increase, then we can move upwards on our autonomy scales towards that ‘human in the loop’ and then of course autonomous aircraft at some point in the future.”

But, says Hammond, it will be cargo deliveries – both intra-urban and inter-regional – that will come first.

“We need autonomous operations today in the cargo space before we even have a chance at the passenger space… And more resources and more efforts are needed to solve out what those air corridors can look like, with autonomous aircraft operating in our conventional airspace.”

Below: Mid-sized drones like this, carrying medical or other critical supplies, will likely be the vanguard of the transition to AAM.

Dubai Hammond AAM



With a variety of InDro Robotics delivery drones – including a model proven in trials for temperature-sensitive medical deliveries between hospitals – InDro has a vested interest in the AAM future. But it’s not just about us – far from it.

“I believe AAM will be truly transformative – and I’m not talking about the delivery of coffee and bagels to someone’s back yard,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece.

“Advanced Air Mobility will mean that critical – and even life-saving – products can be quickly and safely transported across cities and to nearby regions in a fraction of the time of traditional ground delivery. It’s going to mean that people in some remote and isolated communities will be able to board regular or on-demand flights for the first time ever,” he adds.

“Plus, sustainable flight will play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a time when such measures are very much needed.”

We were pleased to see JR Hammond and CAAM representing Canada’s AAM interests – and solutions – on a global stage. (And, if this is your first introduction to AAM and CAAM, you can find out more in our primer here.)

All images, with the exception of JR Hammond on the panel, courtesy of Dubai Airshow.

BC’s Helijet announces purchase of eVTOL in Advanced Air Mobility milestone

BC’s Helijet announces purchase of eVTOL in Advanced Air Mobility milestone

By Scott Simmie


Canada has just taken a major step forward into the coming world of Advanced Air Mobility, or AAM.

Vancouver-based Helijet International, Inc. has announced the purchase of an eVTOL aircraft for crewed operations in British Columbia. The ALIA 250 eVTOL (electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) is manufactured by US-based BETA Technologies and will bring a critical step toward sustainable passenger flight to Helijet, as well as service to additional locations.

The announcement took place at Helijet’s facility in Vancouver on October 31 and was attended by BC Premier David Eby, Helijet CEO Danny Sitnam, BETA’s Skye Carapetyan, as well as JR Hammond, the Executive Director of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM). Indro Robotics CEO Philip Reece was also there for the announcement, as InDro is an Industry Partner in CAAM and has partnered with Helijet on other AAM initiatives (more on that later).

“This provincial government recognizes the potential of advanced air mobility to decarbonize the aviation sector, improve regional connectivity, improve emergency response times and introduce new manufacturing opportunities in our province,” said Premier Eby. “We congratulate Helijet on their exciting news and look forward to British Columbia becoming a leader in the Advanced Air Mobility sector.”

Though the aircraft is not yet certified, flight testing in the US is well underway. BETA intends to certify the aircraft for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations. Eventually, the aircraft will supplement the existing Helijet fleet – offering additional services to locations where the higher cost of traditional helicopter operations have traditionally made flights impractical.

“The introduction of eVTOL aircraft will not only enhance the passenger experience but also elevate Helijet’s capacity to provide essential services such as emergency response, air ambulance, and organ transfers,” says a news release issued by CAAM.

“This innovation is a crucial step forward in enhancing the overall well-being of communities in the Lower Mainland and remote regions.”

As an example of how the new eVTOL will help, Helijet CEO Danny Sitnam looked ahead to urgent medical deliveries between Vancouver hospitals “at a much lower cost, with no carbon footprint, and a quieter environment for the people below.”

Before we dive in, here’s a look at the aircraft. And while this graphic was created for the news release, don’t worry – the BETA ALIA 250 is very much a real machine.


Helijet BETA AAM



You’ve perhaps heard of Advanced Air Mobility. If you haven’t, here’s a little primer.

You can think of AAM as the next evolution in air transport. We like this high-level definition from BAE Systems:

“Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is an air transport system concept that integrates new, transformational aircraft designs and flight technologies into existing and modified airspace operations.”

Those new innovative aircraft designs will have a low carbon footprint, and generally fall within these three design categories:

  • Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL). You can think here of air taxis, patient transfers, cross-town trips in dense urban areas, and more. These machines will take off and land from Vertiports, which have a small footprint advantageous to urban centres
  • Electric Conventional Take-Off & Landing (eCTOL). These would be electrified or hybrid fixed-wing aircraft that still require runways but are more efficient to operate (and much greener) than conventional aircraft. Likely used for short trips, carrying passengers and cargo from regional and rural locations.
  • Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS). You can think here of drones, or Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These will be commonplace delivering critical goods and medical supplies, both within urban centres and to nearby communities. They will share controlled airspace with other traditional aircraft, though their operations will likely be restricted to designated flight corridors to avoid any conflict.

Initially, the transition to the world of AAM will involve crewed aircraft in the eVTOL and eCTOL space. In other words, there will be a human being piloting those aircraft. As the system and technologies advance, however, automation will take on a greater role, Pilots will be on board monitoring those autonomous flights, until a stage is reached where the flights are fully autonomous.

That’s a ways down the road. But the gears of this machinery are very much in motion. The FAA already has a blueprint for AAM and flight corridors. A large number of companies are working on new and innovative aircraft designs utilising electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion. And the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) is working closely with regulators and the industry to advance the transition.

Speaking of CAAM, we also like its AAM definition:

“Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is the evolution of air transportation created by an ecosystem of new technologies allowing people, goods, and services to move within urban and regional areas safely.”

And let’s not forget about the low carbon footprint. That’s also a big part of this revolution. Canada (and many other countries) have committed to Net Zero carbon emissions by the year 2050. That means our economy is expected to achieve that goal either by switching to technologies that emit no greenhouse gas emissions – or activities that offset those emissions (such as tree planting).

And while long-range passenger jets pose a greater technological challenge when it comes to electrification or hybrid power sources, there’s a lot of air traffic in urban areas. Plus, the use of green aircraft for goods delivery reduces the reliance on internal combustion-based ground vehicles. InDro Robotics, for example, has flown COVID test supplies from remote island communities by drone, as well as prescription medications to isolated communities. These deliveries would have traditionally relied on ground transport and ferries.

If you’re interested in learning more about AAM, we’ve written a pretty extensive primer here.

Now let’s get back to Helijet.

Below: The BETA ALIA 250 in a hover test:




BETA is building two aircraft: The eVTOL purchased by Helijet, as well as a cTOL – an electric, fixed-wing aircraft that requires a runway. Both employ a patented electric propulsion system and utilise batteries with a high energy density. They also each have a wingspan of just over 15 metres (50 feet) and can carry five passengers (or equivalent cargo) plus a pilot.

BETA started with a small but highly committed team. In less than 10 months, its first full-scale prototype, AVA, went from the drawing board to crewed test flights. Since then, BETA has grown considerably and received significant investment. In 2019, it began work on the ALIA aircraft. The company says its design was inspired by the Arctic Tern; engineers say biomimicry played a role in the design of the aircraft’s wings and long sweeping tail.

While BETA partnered with many suppliers for components of the aircraft, the company developed its own proprietary electric motor (no small feat). In 2021, ALIA flew its maiden crewed flight.

It wasn’t long before the design started catching the attention of others. UPS ordered 10 ALIA aircraft – and reserved 140 more. The US Air Force was impressed enough that it issued a special Military Flight Release. This allowed the company to carry out experimental flights with the Air Force. BETA also closed a $368M Series A funding round; Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund was one of the investors. So the company has been on an impressive trajectory.

The company builds its own charging cubes, which will be installed much like Tesla chargers. In fact, the ALIA cTOL flew 2400 miles (3840 km) over seven states in 2022, with the longest leg just shy of 300 miles (480 km). It stopped to charge on the company’s own infrastructure charging network. Down the road, you can picture some of these charging cubes at destinations the eVTOL will serve for Helijet. Those destinations won’t require runways or traditional aviation fuel.

Below: An ALIA cTOL gets some juice from the BETA charging cube:







The BETA ALIA eVTOL won’t be making its appearance with Helijet next week, next month – or even next year. There’s still the lengthy certification process to go before the aircraft can be put into commercial use.

But the announcement is still highly significant. It signals a commitment on the part of Helijet, CAAM, and the Government of British Columbia toward a low-carbon AAM world. It will open the door to servicing communities that currently do not have an affordable option for air transportation or deliveries.

And, according to BC Premier Eby, it’s a perfect fit for the province.

“British Columbia – we’re a quiet champion when it comes to the aerospace industry. One of Kelowna’s biggest employers, KF Aerospace, is obviously in the industry. We also have Cascade Aerospace out in Abbotsford – the biggest employer in the valley. And we have companies like InDro Robotics – and the CEO is here today – using large drones to deliver to remote and rural First Nations Communities out of Vancouver.”

And while Helijet’s new purchase won’t be in service for the immediate future – it’s definitely going to happen. And that’s a very big deal.

“We will soon gather again to celebrate the inaugural flight of the ALIA 250 eVTOL aircraft with Helijet,” said JR Hammond, Executive Director of CAAM. “And that day will make another historic milestone on our journey towards an interconnected aviation ecosystem.” 

Helijet started 37 years ago with a single helicopter and a handful of employees; it’s now North America’s largest scheduled helicopter airline. Company President and CEO Danny Sitman says this is a natural evolution.

“We were disrupting aviation 37 years ago…Today marks another significant milestone, not just for us but for all British Columbians… We have made a firm order for four aircraft at this time, with an option for four more. It’s an exciting time for aviation right now.”

And it is.

Below: The BETA ALIA cTOL in flight




InDro Robotics has a vested interest in the coming world of Advanced Air Mobility. We have carried out multiple missions, pilot projects and research tests related to this next phase in aviation. In fact, one of them has been in conjunction with Helijet.

InDro recently flew from Helijet’s Vancouver Harbour facility, piloting our drone through a flight corridor designed to virtually eliminate any potential conflict with crewed aviation – while still flying in a dense urban centre with regular air traffic.

We also used that flight to map the strength of 5G cellular signals at different altitudes – data that will be useful in the coming AAM world of automated BVLOS drone flights. We have also long been committed to sustainable, low-carbon footprint technologies.

“We’re pleased to see Helijet take the lead by committing to a sustainable, passenger-carrying eVTOL,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece. “We are truly on the cusp of a transformative phase in aviation, and we applaud Helijet, CAAM and BETA on today’s important announcement. I look forward to a flight in the ALIA when it enters service here in BC.”

New heavy-lift autogyro grabs attention @AUVSI

New heavy-lift autogyro grabs attention @AUVSI

We had barely got onto the XPONENTIAL trade floor in Orlando before something really caught our attention. Part of the reason was because it was big. But it was also very different.

It’s an entirely new type of VTOL drone that uses an autogyro-type system for lift. The drone is called ATLIS, and it’s billed as a long-range, heavy lift VTOL cargo UAV. It’s built by a Florida company called Aergility, which has previously successfully tested scale models of this design.

“We flew our first 1:4 scale model about four years ago,” says Brian Vander Mey, Aergility’s Director of Sales and Marketing. “Then we built a 30 per cent scale model, and this is the debut of our full-scale model. This is our third generation.”

Take a look at this thing. It’s quite something:

VTOL cargo UAV

The Aergility ATLIS has a claimed range of 300 miles (480 km) with a payload of 500 pounds (227 kg). The company says it’s been designed for dropping critical supplies to disaster areas, hostile environments, and more.

“We want to be in places that have limited, damaged infrastructure or uavailable infrastructure,” says Brian Vander Mey, Aergility’s Director of Sales and Marketing.

“That would be anything from 400,000 villages in Africa, to oil platforms, to military applications where it costs $1,000 per litre to deliver water into the field.”


A VTOL with autogyro


This drone has quite an unusual design. Forward thrust is carried out by a multi-fuel turboprop engine. You can get a closer look at the front end here:

Cargo Drone

The back end, meanwhile, opens up much like a military cargo aircraft. This enables rapid loading and unloading, which is a major factor in a critical situation.

Cargo Drone

Takeoff, transition, autogyro


The ATLIS features a total of seven propellors and motors. The fuel engine is the one you saw previously, and is responsible for thrust in forward flight. In addition, ATLIS has six other motors that function both for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), like a quadcopter.

But during the transition to forward flight, the power to those VTOL rotors is gradually decreased to zero. Airflow starts to move those props of its own accord – meaning they begin to auto-rotate simply due to forward motion through air. Once they reach a sufficient speed, they provide lift just like a wing.

But these motors can also be controlled – slowed down on one side or the other (or front to back) by regenerative braking. The power generated during that braking process is transferred to the rotors on the opposite side of the aircraft, increasing their speed. Doing this gives the pilot authority over yaw, pitch and roll.

“So if you want to bank, you add power to rotors on one side by generating and drawing power from rotors on the opposite side,” says Vander Mey. “The net is that zero power has been used.

“The aircraft is remarkably simple. There are no ailerons, it’s just rotors.”

Here’s a better explanation, followed by a shot of one of those combination VTOL/autogyro rotors.


ATLIS Cargo Drone

Getting ready for flight


The ATLIS on display has not yet flown. But it’s not a mockup (something that occasionally plagues trade shows). The carbon fuselage is the real deal, but final integration of components has not yet been done. The company has successfully flown a 1:3 scale version, and will take ATLIS to the air by the end of summer.

“There’s going to be an extensive certification process. The first thing is to get the aircraft in good shape and ready for production,” says Vander Mey. “So we are going to be doing our initial flight testing for this aircraft in late summer, and we’re targeting having production units available 18-24 months from now.”

Cargo Drone

Scale model in flight


As mentioned, Aergility has previously produced scale models of this drone. You’ll see in this video that roll, pitch and yaw have all been achieved despite no airelons. Of course, multi-rotors do this as well – but standard quadcopters continuously supply power to all rotors. The ATLIS does not, once in full forward flight. And when inputs are required, it puts the brakes on some rotors, generating the power required to speed up opposing rotors.

This strikes us as new. Aergility appears to have been successful with its prototype:

InDro’s Take


This unusual design caught our eye. If Aergility can successfully get its full-scale version through certification, it will certainly find a market. The ability to move 500 pounds of cargo 300 miles in a VTOL-style aircraft is very significant, and we can foresee many humanitarian and emergency use-cases, as well as just routine deliveries to remote communities.

We’re also intrigued by the autogyro aspect, and the ability to change autogyro speeds for flight inputs (what Aergility calls “Managed Autorotation Technology” or MAT). ATLIS does not require tilting motors or variable pitch rotors; we’d love to see this sytem in action.

We wish Aergility the best in test flights, certification, and bringing this product to market. A drone like this, if successful, will certainly fill a void.



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Advanced Air Mobility: A primer

Advanced Air Mobility: A primer

By Scott Simmie, InDro Robotics


The world of drones and aerospace is laden with acronyms. UAVs, VTOL and BVLOS are but a few of the terms frequently kicked around. But there’s another one that’s starting to gain traction. It’s AAM, or Advanced Air Mobility. We thought it would be worth having a look at what this means, and what the implications are as we head into the future of aerospace: A world where crewed and uncrewed aircraft take on new roles, while safely sharing the airspace.

There are a few definitions of AAM kicking around, but we particularly like this thorough take from Delloitte Insights:

“Advanced air mobility (AAM) – the emergence of transformative airborne technology to transport people and goods in new, community-friendly, and cost-effective aircraft in both rural and urban environments – represents the next inflection point in the aerospace industry’s ongoing evolution.5 AAM is expected to be the next significant change in mobility and perhaps the global economy, as it could lead to fundamentally new capabilities and applications that were previously not feasible. AAM technologies promise to transform how people and cargo are moved…”

Inflection point


So it’s a pretty big deal. And while “inflection point” makes us stand up and pay attention, what might this mean in practical terms? Well, for one thing we’ll see the emergence of a new category of aircraft, the eVTOL. This means an electrically powered, zero emission machine that can take off and land vertically. This eliminates the need for runways and the kind of support services (such as aviation fuel storage, hangars) required at even smaller regional airports. Some of these eVTOLs might require a pilot, but many will operate like drones – carrying goods, or people, without requiring a crew.

We asked InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece what he envisions this new age will bring.

“Having short- to medium-range aerial options for transporting cargo – and even people – will bring multiple benefits: Using electricity or hydrogen for power will be better for the environment and these aircraft will reduce road congestion. It will also expand access for many to regional air travel due to lower infrastructure costs: Think many ‘Vertiports’ instead of large airports.

“Advanced Air Mobility will also boost jobs and skills in new areas, as well as access to resources including consumables and medical supplies. There are many cut-off communities in Canada, including some that do not have year-round road access. The list goes on. While these are only some ideas at the moment, once the communities grow into the infrastructure, new industries and solutions will rapidly come to light.”

This era is coming…

A number of companies are already building and testing such aircraft. One of the best-known is China’s EHang, which is manufacturing the EH-216 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle, or AAV. It can carry two passengers or cargo. In a future not too far removed, you might be able to summon this aircraft to a nearby landing pad with a smartphone app (think Uber), and have it deliver you, or critical cargo, from a congested urban centre to a nearby city in minutes.

There’s a growing number of other companies in this field, as well. They include Lilium, Joby Aviation, and Volocopter – to name just a few. Some of the designs – many of which have been made possible by the technology that powers drones – are pretty amazing. (If you’re interested in seeing some of these vehicles, check out this Aviation Today article.)

It’s also worth mentioning Jaunt Air Mobility. Though the company originated in the US, it now has offices and a highly experienced leadership team in Montreal. The company’s patented design is like a fixed-wing helicopter, promising an estimated range of up to 160 kilometres, with a top speed of up to 280 kph. Once in forward flight, the main rotor slows and functions like an autogyro, providing lift while saving energy. Here’s a description from its website:

Jaunt is the global leader in slowed rotor compound (SRC) technology. Our patented technology slows the rotor once aloft (the rotor tip speed equaling the aircraft’s pace) thereby reducing drag and associated vibration. In combination with a small wing sized for cruise, this produces a lift to drag ratio equivalent to a fixed wing airplane providing an exceptionally efficient flight with very low noise. Noise that is practically imperceptible in flight.”‘

Although its video is CGI, the company is *very* real, and the vehicle it’s building is based on a field-proven design:

So that’s one part of the Advanced Air Mobility picture: New, electrically powered aircraft that carry passengers or cargo to nearby communities currently not served (or under-served) because they lack either the infrastructure or the ongoing demand to support more traditional aviation models.

But there’s another piece to this puzzle. And that involves drones.

Drones and Advanced Air Mobility

Smaller Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or drones) are very much part of this picture. They might be delivering prescription medications or urgent parts, or perhaps even transporting Automated External Defibrillators to the site of a 9-1-1 call (something InDro Robotics has proven in trials). They could even be moving a life-saving organ for human transplant from one hospital to another, reducing time and improving patient outcomes. Plus, or course, there’s the multitude of tasks drones can achieve on the scientific and industrial/Enterprise side of things. (A quick aside: When referring to the use of drones or these new and larger eVTOLs solely within an urban center, it’s often referred to as Urban Air Mobility, or UAM. But UAM and AAM will go hand-in-hand.)

It all paints a pretty exciting picture of the future. But it’s a future the world can’t simply dive into. With more aircraft taking to the skies, often at lower-altitude flights, the runway to this future needs to be methodical. It requires an approach often referred to as “Crawl, walk, run.” As you’ve likely guessed, that means starting out very slowly and carefully, using an incremental approach.

UTM: Uncrewed Traffic Management

One key component in this equation is minimizing the potential for any of these aircraft to come into conflict with one another. And here we get to introduce another acronym: UTM, or Uncrewed Traffic Management. The future requires a system which – through a combination of hardware and software and automation – can seamlessly ensure the skies above (and the ground below) remain safe.

Here, too, there is no shortage of companies and working groups pushing for solutions. Just as surely as vehicles like the EH-216 will one day become routine, a robust and reliable UTM solution – likely involving a combination of software integrated with NAV Canada’s air traffic control, along with detect-and-avoid sensors on aircraft and specific flight corridors – will emerge. But that’s not going to happen overnight.

In this country, a group called the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium has already started planning for the future.

Bringing Advanced Air Mobility to Canada

This isn’t something any one company – or regulator – can do on their own. It requires consensus, collaboration, and a shared vision and commitment. That’s why the Consortium, whose home page image you see below, has brought together multiple partners.

Air Mobility

Advanced Air Mobility is a team effort

As the Consortium’s website states: “We’re in this together.” That’s why the Consortium’s members are drawn from across the industry – including representation from academia and government. It would take quite some time to list them all here, but you can find a list of all members on this page. InDro Robotics is but one of many members.

“We’re building an ecosystem of national collaboration towards a sustainable, equitable and profitable Advanced Air Mobility industry in Canada,” states the Consortium’s website. Its goals, it says, are simple: “Zero emissions from Advanced Air Mobility operations in Canada.” Somewhere down the road, says the Consortium, one in five aircraft in Canada will operate with zero emissions.

We asked Chris Howe, the Consortium’s Lead Operating Officer, why he’s optimistic about this new future:

“AAM requires aviation to look outside itself and collaborate with so many innovative new technologies,” he says.

“New energy (electric and hydrogen), engineering (quieter operations), and also connectivity (5G) and advanced decision-making (artificial intelligence) are required to make AAM a safe, sustainable and equitable solution. I’m personally excited to see how this incredibly interdisciplinary industry will work together to get off the ground and solve real problems like emergency medical transportation.” 

The Consortium operates with a commitment to six pillars it believes “are necessary to make AAM an agent of global positive change.”

Those pillars, from the website, are as follows:

Air Mobility

What’s next for AAM in Canada?

Great question. Two key projects are already well underway. The first is to create a Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Master Plan. Phase One of that project is a strategic roadmap that hopes to guide the next 20 years of AAM development in Canada. It will focus on these three areas, which we’re quoting verbatim from the site:

  • Define the unifying national AAM vision for Canada
  • Identify gaps & barriers in accomplishing the vision
  • Create the national AAM implementation Roadmap & Master Plan

Phase Two will get a little more technical. The site says it’s “designed to de-risk AAM operations, coordinate business planning, and expedite technology integration required to activate revenue generating use cases.”

Goals for this phase, in conjunction with regional projects taking place in Vancouver and Toronto, include:

  • Design airspace structure, flight routes, physical infrastructure maps and noise footprints for urban and rural operations
  • Develop Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for specific AAM use cases and integration with RPAS Traffic Management (RTM)

There’s much more…


The Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium website is very well put together. There’s a lot of information there, as well as a standing invite for other stakeholders and interested parties to get involved.

We can’t predict, at least not with certainty, where AAM will take us in the coming years. Certainly there are a number of new eVTOL designs already being tested, with many more under development. There’s no question zero-emission aircraft will be welcome additions in a world under growing pressure from climate change.

There’s also no question that these aircraft will be moving goods and people to areas currently under-served by traditional aviation – and that’s a very good thing.

But there’s one pressing question: When will all this arrive? We put that to Consortium lead Chris Howe.

“Commercial eVTOL manufacturers are telling us they are aiming for certification of their aircraft by 2024,” he says.

“We are working hard to ensure the infrastructure and regulations will allow for safe, sustainable and equitable commercial passenger operations in Canada by 2030.”

It’s a future we very much look forward to. 

And finally…

If you’re interested in reading more on the topic, Howe suggests the following links as good resources:

And a quick PS: The fact InDro Robotics is a consortium member didn’t play a role in this post. We wrote this simply because AAM is coming, and fast. Keep this on your radar.

By Scott Simmie