B.C. group hoping to launch flying passenger drones by 2025

VICTORIA —
A group of B.C.-based aviation experts has announced its plans to make vertical flying passenger drone technology a reality.

On Wednesday, the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium (CAAM) spoke at a press conference on how it is planning to change the aviation industry as we know it.

“It’s really the launch of the modern-day version of The Jetsons, with flying vehicles, zero emission aviation and advanced air mobility,” said JR Hammond, executive director of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility Consortium.

The consortium is a multi-stakeholder group based out of Vancouver. It is looking to streamline research, development and commercial operations of advanced air mobility.

“The critical date is 2025,” said Hammond.

That is when the group is aiming to make passenger flight a reality. In the short term, the delivery of medical supplies by drone is the consortium’s starting point.

“Medical initially, then cargo, with passenger being the last,” said Hammond. “Just to ensure that the highest degree of aviation safety is not compromised in any of those steps.”

Danny Sitnam is the president and CEO of Helijet International, which is based in Vancouver. Helijet has been in operation for 34 years and is a key player at the table.

“We have a mature market that is already very comfortable flying (in) vertical takeoff technologies, i.e. the helicopter,” said Sitnam.

Helijet’s experience in the market will be useful as the technology develops, according to CAAM. Meanwhile, the company is already looking to integrate smaller passenger aircraft into its fleet.

“You could be coming in and connecting onto a smaller air vehicle,” said Sitnam. “Like a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle that will take you out to Langley or a suburban area. It would be less expensive to do that than using a conventional aircraft.”

He went on to say that there’s a strong desire by aviation operators, including Helijet, to become more sustainable in aviation.

“This Jetsons technology is not two generations down in the future,” said Hammond. “It’s actually just around the corner.”

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