A white and red drone flying in the sky.

Edmonton International Airport launches Canada’s first drone delivery operation from within an airport

Published On
December 3, 2021

First step towards drone logistics operations within restricted airspace

Canada’s first drone delivery operation from within an airport has taken off from Edmonton International Airport (EIA), helping chart a new path for this emerging industry.

A Sparrow drone from Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) successfully flew from the EIA Airport Operations Facility to a site in Leduc County, marking the first time this activity has been approved by NAV CANADA. This logistics operation is a major step towards the future modernization of supply chains. The Sparrow drone will soon be carrying commercial cargo packages on behalf of clients Ziing Final Mile and Apple Express. Air Canada Cargo is operating as the official agent for DDC.

Airspace around all Canadian airports is highly restricted for safety and any drone activity is forbidden without proper authorization. EIA and DDC have spent significant months working with NAV CANADA to create new approvals and safety procedures to make this and future flights possible. These initial flights will create the template for future operations that could include deliveries into populated areas, such as Edmonton or other major centres, as well as Indigenous communities and Northern communities.

“At EIA our mandate is to support economic growth and diversification in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Our national leadership in integrating drone technologies at an airport is giving birth to a new sector in drone logistics. The integration of these sustainable technologies is the precursor to the enablement of advanced air mobility, and it lowers barriers for the movement of goods and in the future, people.  Congratulations to all the partners involved in this ground-breaking event and who strive for an innovative future of drone operations.”

  • Myron Keehn, Vice-President, Air Service and Business Development, EIA

“Air Canada Cargo is privileged to be the catalyst for bringing the different parties together for this historic initiative. Drone operations at airports will play a vital role in the future of cargo connectivity. Congratulations to the team at Edmonton International Airport for being true visionaries and to Apple Express and Ziing Final Mile for believing in the future of the drone industry”

  • Jason Berry, Vice-President, Air Canada Cargo

“We are honoured to be working with all parties to bring meaningful value to stakeholders using our patented drone delivery solution. We are entering a unique time in transportation history as we move towards a future that suggests an entirely new landscape of opportunities for the global supply chain. To our knowledge, this is the first drone delivery project at a large-scale international airport anywhere in Canada. As an award-winning global leader, we are pleased with our continued technological and commercial successes in the drone delivery industry.”

  • Michael Zahra, President & CEO of DDC

“Unlocking the opportunities that come with advanced last-mile delivery systems is essential to meeting our customer expectations well into the future. It’s exciting to partner with Drone Delivery Canada as an early adopter in drone technology and celebrate the next big step in operationalizing this innovative transportation method for commercial use. As these shorter flight routes prove successful, we look forward to expanding our transportation network and offering our customers speedy and seamless delivery, especially in the healthcare, technology, aerospace and ecommerce industries where time-critical logistics is a must.”

  • Nasser Syed, CEO Apple Express

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with the Edmonton International Airport, Air Canada, Drone Delivery Canada and Apple Express. As an early adopter of drone technology, I believe, we’ll help businesses and communities alike by offering a last mile delivery service that’s complementary to traditional over the road delivery.”

  • Chris Higham, President & CEO of Ziing Final Mile

Example of drone usage
As the technology and safety requirements continue to evolve, possible future usages include:

  • Delivery of high-value and timely medical products
  • Secure transport of sensitive cargo
  • Delivery to remote locations, or locations where vehicle access has been disrupted
  • Using zero-emission drones to conduct final-kilometre delivery services, helping reduce vehicle traffic and emissions

Officials in Leduc County have provided tremendous support for the project, helping supply a location in the Pat Wilson Memorial Park within the Nisku business district, as the delivery location from EIA. In the coming months, drivers and residents near the airport may see the Sparrow drone flying across the Queen Elizabeth II Highway between the airport and the secondary landing location in Leduc County. All flights are done with authorization and cooperation from NAV CANADA.

“We are incredibly proud to partner with Edmonton International Airport on this drone delivery operation. Leduc County has supported the airport on a variety of investment and business opportunities, and we continually work together to advance diversification and economic development in the region. This project is both innovative and forward thinking, and Leduc County is excited to be the first municipality to host this type of service.”

  • Tanni Doblanko, Mayor, Leduc County

To ensure public safety, some of the restrictions on the drone flights include that it cannot fly over populated areas, and its flying height is limited. As the project continues to be tested and further safety requirements are met, the goal is conduct longer flights that can become delivery flight paths.

EIA drone facts
Other examples of drone usage at Edmonton International Airport include:

For more information on this project and drone operations at EIA please visit flyeia.com/dronecargo.

About Edmonton International Airport
Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is a self-funded, not-for-profit corporation whose mandate is to drive economic prosperity for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. EIA is Canada’s fifth-busiest airport by passenger traffic and the largest major Canadian airport by land area. EIA’s Airport City Sustainability Campus is a living lab for accelerating the development, testing, implementation, and commercialization of technology. EIA offers non-stop connections to destinations across Canada, the US, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. EIA is a major economic driver, with an economic output of over C $ 3.2 billion, supporting over 26,000 jobs. Follow @flyeia on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin or Facebook. For more information, please visit: flyeia.com, follow @flyeia on TwitterInstagramLinkedin or Facebook.

Media Contacts:
Darrell Winwood
Edmonton International Airport
Digital and Corporate Communications

Drone Delivery Canada Interview Requests:
Nelson Hudes
Hudes Communications International
(905) 660-9155