On Saturday September 7th, members of Coquitlam SAR and representatives from Ridge Meadows SAR, Surrey SAR, the Canadian Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), Coquitlam Fire Rescue and the SFU Telematics Research Lab attended a demonstration of the equipment, capabilities and skills of local Unmanned Aerial Vehicle services company North Guardian UAV Services.
Coquitlam SAR has been working with North Guardian UAVs for several months on an ongoing project to learn how Umnaned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) might be applied to Search and Rescue. As subject matter experts in SAR, Coquitlam SAR managers and members have been providing their expertise and requirements for how they believe a UAV might be useful, while North Guardian, subject matter experts in the capabilities of UAVs, have been providing feedback and demonstrations of how a UAV performs.
UAVs have been used for SAR operations in various places around the world, but mostly on an ad-hoc basis. Coquitlam SAR and North Guardian have undertaken this project to understand how a UAV might be used in a standard SAR operation. To that end, North Guardian has been proactive in working with Transport Canada in order to understand the regulatory requirements for commercial operation of these devices, and how these regulations would apply to SAR and other situations.
As a result of their groundwork, for the demo today North Guardian applied for and received a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) to operate their UAVs in the area near Eagle Mountain Park in Coquitlam. This certificate specifies the conditions under which North Guardian can operate, and includes such details as
- Two operators must be present at all times: the pilot and the spotter
(North Guardian recommends the presence of a ground controller)
- The aircraft must be in view at all times
- limitations on altitude and distance are imposed
The demo today was just one part of a larger plan to bring UAV technology to bear in a systematic way to Search and Rescue operations. Being familiar with the technology is the first step, and we hope that by working together we can build a system that will make SAR safer, more efficient and faster.
Much thanks to North Guardian for donating their time and expertise to this project so far.