Canada’s nascent drone industry has got a boost with a commercial agreement between Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) and Air Canada. The partnership involves Air Canada’s cargo unit marketing and selling the drone delivery services using their existing platforms, across 150,000 drone delivery routes in the country.
Pursuant to the terms of the Agreement and subject to DDC obtaining required regulatory approvals, DDC will build and operate up to 150,000 drone delivery routes in Canada. These routes will include timetables, flight schedules, payload capacities, type of drones to be deployed, and payment terms. DDC’s services will be marketed as a premium offering, and Air Canada Cargo has agreed that it shall not use or engage with any other drone delivery service providers. The agreement arrives on the heels of Transport Canada’s new drone regulations in January, which include mandatory licenses for both commercial and recreational pilots, age limits, night flight permissions, and strict safety design standards for drones in proximity to the public. The initial term of the Agreement is ten years from the effective date of May 29, 2019.
Drone Delivery Canada CEO Tony Di Benedetto sees the deal as “transformational” for the industry, the available drones on offer include the Sparrow, which can carry up to 10 pounds of cargo, to the Condor, which can deliver 400 pounds.
“This agreement greatly accelerates our commercial roll out in Canada”, commented Di Benedetto adding, “Our drone delivery services will be extensively marketed as we work to establish operations across the country leveraging Air Canada Cargo’s brand presence and their established sales network and marketing reach. DDC will benefit from Air Canada’s Cargo’s expertise and ability to promote and sell DDC services through Air Canada Cargo’s industry leading marketing and sales technology channels in Canada, which will support our efforts to establish DDC as Canada’s first national drone cargo solution. Next, DDC hopes to pursue even larger markets in the United States and Europe.”
Emphasizing how the service could be particularly useful in remote communities Tim Strauss, Vice President, Cargo, at Air Canada said, “Air Canada is pleased to partner with Drone Delivery Canada, a leading player in today’s emerging drone industry. We believe drone technology has the potential to offer the cargo community cost-effective solutions to complex issues related to supply chain distribution in non-traditional markets, including remote communities in Canada. It is another way Air Canada Cargo is innovating and engaging with new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and digital technologies, which are transforming the cargo landscape.” Strauss is an independent member of the advisory board of DDC.
Stressing the importance of increased outreach achievable by drones, Di Benedetto said, “If you look at northern communities, because of these inefficiencies, food prices are very high, cost of living is incredibly high, and with this technology we’re addressing these problems today.”
Last year DDC signed its first contract, a Can$2.5 million (US$1.9 million) deal to deliver supplies, medicine, food and mail to the remote Moose Cree First Nation in the north of Ontario province.
Echoing Di Benedetto’s plans for rural delivery, Glenn Martin, the executive director of Unmanned Systems Canada, said Air Canada has announced plans for deliveries to Moosonee and Moose Factory, two very remote northern Ontario communities.
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