COPA signs MOU with Aerial Evolution Association of Canada

— Text provided by COPA

COPA signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with the Aerial Evolution Association of Canada (AEAC) to conduct joint activities for fostering the development and safe integration of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly known as drones, in Canadian airspace.

With over 15,000 members, the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) represents Canada’s largest aviation association. In spring 2021, COPA expanded its mandate to include RPAS operators and has since launched new programs, scholarship opportunities, and training dedicated to supporting RPAS pilots to enhance their skills and to operate safely.

Aerial Evolution Association of Canada (AEAC) is a Canadian-registered not-for-profit association, founded in 2003 as the national industry association representing entrepreneurs, businesses, students, academia, industry, and government organizations working in the aerial and RPAS sector.

The MOU will facilitate efforts by both COPA and AEAC to achieve mutual goals and leverage resources for sharing information and for planning, developing, and implementing RPAS services that positively impact the aviation sector.

“We are excited to take this important step with AEAC which provides an opportunity to leverage the resources, strengths and talent of both associations,” said Christine Gervais, President and CEO of COPA. “The scope of RPAS operations in Canada continues to evolve at a rapid rate, and this partnership reinforces our two association’s shared commitment to safety and protecting all pilots’ freedom to fly.”

“This new national agreement is expected to unlock strategic opportunities for collaboration between our two associations,” says Michael Cohen, Chair of the Board of Directors, Aerial Evolution Association of Canada. “Under the terms of the MOU, COPA and AEAC will work together to share best practices and introduce new and important resources to the growing remotely piloted aircraft community.”

(Photo: Ben Burger, Adobe Stock)

Spirit of Innovation officially breaks all-electric speed record

Rolls-Royce on Jan. 20 announced its all-electric Spirit of Innovation aircraft is officially the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft, having set two new world records which have now been independently confirmed through the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) – the World Air Sports Federation, which controls and certifies world aeronautical and astronautical records.

The all-electric aircraft world speed record was set back on November 16, 2021, at 15:45 (GMT), when the Spirit of Innovation aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9 km/h (345.4 mph) over three kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04 km/h (132mph) set by the Siemens eAircraft powered Extra 330 LE Aerobatic aircraft in 2017.

In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the Rolls-Royce aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330 mph) over 15 kilometres – 292.8km/h (182 mph) faster than the previous record. Both records have now been officially verified by FIA.

Rolls-Royce explains the Spirit of Innovation, which is part of the UK Government-backed ACCEL or ‘Accelerating the Electrification of Flight’ project, also clocked up a maximum top speed of 623 km/h (387.4mph) making it the world’s fastest all-electric vehicle.

The aircraft was propelled on its record breaking runs by 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain and what Rolls-Royce describes as the most power-dense propulsion battery pack ever assembled in aerospace. The company is working with aviation energy storage start-up Electroflight and automotive powertrain supplier YASA on this part of the project.

“Achieving the all-electric world-speed record is a fantastic achievement for the ACCEL team and Rolls-Royce,” said Warren East, CEO, Rolls-Royce. “I would like to thank our partners and especially aviation start-up Electroflight, for their collaboration in achieving this pioneering breakthrough.

“The advanced battery and propulsion technology developed for this program has exciting applications for the Advanced Air Mobility market,” continued East. “This is another milestone that will help make ‘jet zero’ a reality and supports our ambitions to deliver the technology breakthroughs society needs to decarbonise transport across air, land and sea.”

Half of the ACCEL project’s funding is provided by the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Innovate UK.

(Photo: Rolls-Royce)

Wisk secures $450M investment from Boeing

Wisk’s 6th generation eVTOL aircraft is a candidate to earn the first-ever certification of an autonomous, all-electric, passenger-carrying aircraft in the U.S. (Photo: Wisk Aero)

Wisk Aero secured US$450 million in funding from The Boeing Company, which already held a significant interest in the Mountain View, California, company targeting what it describes as Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). Tracing its roots back to 2010, Wisk stakes a claim as first U.S. developer of an all-electric, autonomous air taxi.

The newest Boeing investment, announced on Jan. 24, will advance the development of Wisk’s 6th generation eVTOL aircraft, which the company also describes as a candidate to earn the first ever certification of an autonomous, all-electric, passenger-carrying aircraft in the U.S. Boeing new round of funding will also support what Wisk describes as an intensive growth phase planned for this year, as it prepares to launch manufacturing and go-to-market efforts.

“With this investment, we are reconfirming our belief in Wisk’s business and the importance of their work in pioneering all-electric, AI-driven, autonomous capability for the aerospace industry,” said Marc Allen, Chief Strategy Officer of Boeing. “Autonomy is the key to unlocking scale across all AAM applications, from passenger to cargo and beyond. That’s why straight-to-autonomy is a core first principle. Boeing and Wisk have been at the forefront of AAM innovation for more than a decade, and will continue to lead in the years ahead.”

Wisk began in 2010 as Zee Aero and later merged with Kitty Hawk Corporation. With the arrival of its 5th generation aircraft, Zee Aero received its initial significant investment from Boeing was spun off as Wisk, with Kitty Hawk today remaining as a key investor.

Wisk explains, that within five years of aircraft certification, it intends to operate one of the world’s largest autonomous eVTOL fleets. In this same timeframe, Wisk projects close to 14 million annual – zero emission – flights will bring time savings to more than 40 million people across 20 cities.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have Boeing as not only an investor but a strategic partner, which provides us with access to a breadth of resources, industry-leading expertise, a global reach, extensive certification experience, and more,” said Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk. “As we enter this next stage of our growth, this additional funding provides us with capital while allowing us to remain focused on our core business and our number one priority, safety.”


Bye updates eFlyer 800 program progress

Bye Aerospace on Jan. 24 announced its production backlog now stands at 135 purchase deposit and option total agreements for its all-electric, twin-motor eFlyer 800 targeted for the regional airline market. Across all eFlyer models in development, Bye is now approaching a 900 units total in its backlog, including 732 paid purchase deposits and 162 paid, time-limited purchase option deposits.

“The response has been enthusiastically positive since we announced the eFlyer 800 in April of last year,” said George Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace. “We are particularly grateful to our launch customers, Jet It and JetClub, for their endorsement of this ground-breaking program. In addition, Safran continues to be a supportive partner as we continue to assess the most efficient electric powertrain using Safran’s dual ENGINeUS electric motors and GENeUSGRID electric distribution and network protection system.”

Bye is working closely with Safran to determine the most efficient electric powertrain for the eFlyer 800. “After two years of testing in Safran lab, we have validated all the key features and demonstrated the unrivalled performance of our ENGINeUS 500,” said Hervé Blanc, Executive Vice President and General Manager with Safran Electrical & Power. “This electric motor can deliver 750 kW maximum take-off power, which is the perfect fit for the eFlyer 800. Our GENeUSGRID system will further support the eFlyer 800 architecture design with dissimilar distribution components that ensure a full protection against all potential dysfunctional behaviours of a high voltage electrical propulsion system.”

Bye notes the eight-seat eFlyer 800 has a 65-inch-wide cabin for business transportation, while the company is studying a 12-seat configuration for commuter operators.

Bye is in the process of obtaining FAA Part-23 certification for the eFlyer 2 for the professional flight training mission and the four-seat eFlyer 4 for air taxi, cargo and advanced training uses.


New Fort St. John aviation exhibit takes flight

Heather Sjoblom, curator for the Fort St. John North Peace Museum, among the panels comprising the new ‘Soaring Over the North Peace’ aviation exhibit. (Photo: Alaska Highway News)

By Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News

There’s a new permanent exhibit at the Fort St. John North Peace Museum chronicling the rich history of aviation in the region.

‘Soaring Over the North Peace’ opened Wednesday, Jan. 19, and looks at how aviation transformed the history of the area, from a 1935 mercy flight to the creation of Canadian Pacific Airlines.

Curator Heather Sjoblom says the museum has wanted to put together the exhibit for some time now, and finally has all the pieces thanks to donations of artefacts from residents, and information from locals with roots in the aviation community.

The exhibit traces local aviation history through historic photographs, equipment, maps, and personal recollections.

“It starts with a 1930s mercy flight. There was a fellow injured in an accident and all the prominent citizens in the community, people like Duncan Cran and C.M. Finch, donated money so they can fly him out to go to a hospital,” said Sjoblom.

The community hired Grant McConachie, a well-known western Canadian bush pilot, who went on to become the CEO of Canadian Pacific Airlines.

“From there, Grant McConachie starts flying his plane to Fort St. John, landing at Charlie Lake. He starts to get mail contracts from Fort St. John to Fort Nelson, and into the Yukon,” said Sjoblom.

McConachie owned a fleet in the Yukon and Northwest Territories before selling to Canadian Pacific during the Second World War.

The exhibit then moves into the golden age of aviation during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, expanding from bush pilots to commercial flights, and with a growing community being built around the airport.

“We focus a lot on [Canadian Pacific] because that’s the main air company that really grows with Fort St. John,” said Sjoblom. “Keep in mind there was no rail link to Vancouver until the late 50s.”

A variety of artifacts can be seen in the exhibit — suitcases from the late Sue Popesku with their original luggage tags, maps of aviation accidents in the area, and a flight suit.

Other local flying legends such as bush pilot Jimmy ‘Midnight’ Anderson are also featured in the exhibit, well-known for his guide and outfitting exploits in the Pink Mountain area and for using the Alaska Highway as his landing strip.

“No aviation exhibit in this area is complete without talking about Jimmy Anderson,” said Sjoblom. “There’s lots of great stories on him, and the probably with any exhibit we do is that there’s so many amazing stories, and you can only squish so much in.”

The exhibit can viewed during regular museum hours.

Enstrom Helicopter shutters operation

Enstrom Helicopter Corporation shuttered its operations on Jan. 21, 2022, with its owners declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy due to what they describe as several financial difficulties. The Menominee, Michigan, company has been in continuous operation for the past 64 years.

“We’ve built more than 1,300 helicopters, operated in over 50 countries around the world,” said Dennis Martin, Director of Sales and Marketing, Enstrom. “Millions of hours flown, tens of thousands of pilots trained, think of all the lives these aircraft have touched. It’s an incredible legacy, and the people of Northern Michigan and Wisconsin who helped start the company, and especially the hard-working employees who kept it going all these years should be proud of what we accomplished.”

Enstrom delivered its final helicopters, a pair for 280FXs for the Peru Air Force in December 2021. “I can’t say enough about the team of people we have here,” said Enstrom’s President, Matt Francour. “They’ve continued to work throughout the pandemic and our financial difficulties to get aircraft out the door and supply parts and technical support to our large in-service fleet. Their dedication to our customers is truly special.”

Enstrom on Jan. 7 stopped taking new parts orders and supplying overhauls, while technical support was provided up until January 19.

Francour noted that multiple groups have already expressed interest in buying Enstrom’s assets out of bankruptcy and restarting the company. “I don’t know how, and I don’t know when, but I have a feeling we’ll be back,” he said. Founded in 1959, Enstrom Helicopter Corporation designs and produces light single-engine helicopters for the global market.

In its statement, Enstrom thanked all of its past and present employees, dealers, service centres, and customers. Butzel & Long Law Firm, located in Troy, MI, will be handling the bankruptcy.

Airbus hiring 6,000 to prepare for future of aviation

Airbus announced on Jan. 19 that it intends to start 2022 with a recruitment plan of around 6,000 new hires worldwide across the entire group, noting how the aerospace industry showing signs of strong signs of recovery post-COVID, while also looking to prepare for the future of aviation and implement its roadmap for decarbonization.

“Following this initial wave of recruitment, which will take place worldwide and across all our businesses, the number of external hires will be reassessed before mid-year 2022 and we will adjust our needs accordingly,” said Thierry Baril, Chief Human Resources & Workplace Officer, Airbus. “Not only will we look at acquiring the new skills that Airbus needs in the post-COVID world, but we will also do our utmost to reinforce diversity across the company, fostering a safe and inclusive culture reinforcing Team Airbus to be ready to pioneer sustainable aerospace.”

Airbus explains about a quarter of the planned recruitments will focus on acquiring the new skills to support the company’s long-term projects and ambition, notably in the fields of decarbonization, digital transformation and cyber technology. A third of the total recruitment will be allocated to young graduates.

New aviation scholarships available through COPA

— Text provided by COPA

Imagining yourself flying an aircraft or a drone but feel like it’s out of reach? The Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) is offering three scholarships (total of 7 awards) valued at nearly $25,000 to help Canadians pursue their dreams for flight.

$14,000 scholarship to put toward your dream to fly!
Through COPA’s Neil J. Armstrong Ab-Initio Scholarship, one worthy applicant between the ag-es of 16 and 21 will be given the opportunity to earn their Private Pilot Licence (PPL). COPA will cover the cost of the online ground school which provides the theoretical lessons for safe flying as well as contribute toward instructor-led flight training hours to help the recipient practice and master their new skills.

This longstanding scholarship was created in honour of Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame induc-tee and COPA past President, Neil J. Armstrong. COPA will provide up to $14,000 to support the successful applicant in pursuing their PPL (see guidelines for conditions).

Already a private pilot and would like to advance your flight training?
The COPA Advanced Flight Training Scholarship supports COPA members interested in pursuing advanced licences (Commercial Pilot license) or ratings (IFR, multi, float, night, etc.). Through the generous contributions of the former WestJet Pilot Association, this new scholarship helps to remove financial obstacles for COPA members with big flying goals. There are three (3) awards available, valued at $2,500 each.

To qualify, applicants must be 18 years of age or older and have their PPL.

Fly toward an interesting new career or hobby with a COPA RPAS scholarship
Did you know that remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), aka drones, have many uses? They can be flown recreationally for racing in tournaments; they can be flown to protect wildlife and assist forest fire fighting services, safeguard the environment, used for photography and so much more!

Through the new COPA RPAS Pilot Scholarship, three (3) COPA members 18 years of age and older will receive training to obtain their Advanced RPAS Certificate to explore the many appli-cations available for drone use in Canada. The scholarship includes ground school, flight review and exam expenses.

Applications Due by March 1, 2022
Whether you’ve always dreamed of becoming a pilot or have goals to soar to new heights, submit your application today by visiting

Eligibility Criteria
To learn more about eligibility criteria for each individual scholarship, please visit the following webpage:

(Photo: Adobestock)

Waterloo launches sustainable flight school competition for students

A fleet of small planes at the Region of Waterloo International Airport. (Photo: University of Waterloo)

The University of Waterloo is launching a student competition that seeks net-zero energy and carbon-neutral performance designs for a sustainable flight school of the future.

Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA) is partnering with the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC), Alsim Flight Training Solutions, and the Region of Waterloo International Airport to host the competition.

The competition kicked off on January 17, 2022, with the winners set to receive $8,500 in total prize money.

“There has been an international shortage of pilots, with Boeing projecting 612,000 new pilots will be needed between 2021 and 2040,” said Suzanne Kearns, director of WISA. “Flight training is an expensive endeavour for students and contributes to carbon and noise emissions.

“Using innovative technologies such as electric aircraft, flight simulators, and virtual reality, it is feasible to reduce training costs and environmental impacts while simultaneously improving learning effectiveness,” Kearns said.

The University of Waterloo explains student teams will prepare designs for the flight school buildings as well as operational considerations to optimize economic, social, and environmental sustainability, which will be reviewed by a team of judges made up of industry experts.

“The competition promises to spark a holistic rethinking of the aviation training sector as hubs for green innovation,” said Bob Connors, general manager of WWFC. “We are seeking inspirational ideas, exciting designs, and new directions towards a more sustainable future for the air transport training sector.”

There will be opportunities for the student teams to engage with the panel of experts and ask questions about their designs. The judges will choose the top three designs on May 27, 2022, while the final student presentations and winners’ announcements will be at the WISA Annual General Meeting on June 24, 2022.

The student teams are to submit their projects through WISA.

The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA) mission is to be the world’s leading hub for sustainable aeronautics research, technology, and education, leveraging the interdisciplinary research capacity of all six faculties at the University of Waterloo. Founded in 1932, the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC) provides industry-leading training to individuals seeking a career in aviation.