Drones with morphable wings

Aerodynamic representation of the UAS-S45 wing with and without deformation. (Image: SUBSTANCE, École de technologie supérieure)

— By Luc Boily

In its scientific news and innovation SUBSTANCE bulletin of November 8, 2022, the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) of Montreal included a research article published on October 26 entitled New morphing wing technologies for the drones of the future. You read correctly!

According to the authors, Musavir Bashir, Simon Longtin-Martel, Ruxandra Botez and Tony Wong (from the Canada Research Chair in Aircraft Modeling and Simulation Technologies), morphing wings allow an aircraft to fly more efficiently than fixed wings. Such a property allows the wing to change its geometric shape in flight and maximize the aerodynamic performance of the aircraft.

Obviously, morphing wing technology presents several challenges, but its designers believe that it will play an important role in the future of aviation, due to its increased fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The concept developed by the researchers is the aerodynamic optimization of the deformation of the leading edge of the nose (DNLE – for Droop-Nose Leading-Edge) on a well-known drone: the UAS-S45.

To help reach their goal, the researchers leveraged an innovative algorithm called Black Widow Optimization (BWO). They have thus succeeded in improving aerodynamic performance while minimizing drag and maximizing aerodynamic endurance in the cruise flight phase. Numerical studies have validated the effectiveness of the optimization strategy, namely a reduction in drag of nearly 12.18 per cent and an increase in aerodynamic endurance of nearly 10 per cent. These results indicate how the leading-edge morphing wing can improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the UAS-S45 airfoil.

“Morphable wing technology is the future of aeronautical design. Drones could fly efficiently in various conditions by changing the shape of their wings during flight, like birds,” reads the conclusion of the scientific article. Crumbling wing technology optimizes fuel efficiency and handling. The DNLE optimization was designed to increase the aerodynamic performance of the UAS-S45 in the cruise phase for an angle of attack of 2°. The DNLE optimized airfoil demonstrates a drop in drag coefficient to 0.00678 compared to the reference airfoil. In addition, up to 15.22 per cent improvement in aerodynamic efficiency has been achieved by increasing the lift-to-drag ratio for the UAS-S45’s optimized airfoil.


Displays help connect students to fading memories of wartime

Crescent Heights High School has two displays thanks to a partnership between the school, Ghost Squadron Military Museum, Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 17 Robertson Memorial and the South Alberta Light Horse Regimental Museum. (Photo: Samantha Johnson)

By Samantha Johnson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

Crescent Heights High School Medicine Hat, Alberta, has a Remembrance Day display featuring WWI and WWII uniforms along with other artifacts. The display is courtesy of the Ghost Squadron Military Museum, Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 17 Robertson Memorial, and the South Alberta Light Horse Regimental Museum.

Shonna Barth, principal at the school, said “lots of our students no longer have an immediate family member that has been touched by war in the same way. My grandpa fought in WWII, but most the kids don’t know anybody and can start feeling like it’s way off in the distance. This brings it to the school and keeps it more relevant”

The display not only connects the school to experts from the community but fosters awareness and understanding and helps to tell a story.

It doesn’t end with world wars though, as also featured in the display is a photo and bio of Stephan John Stock, who was from Medicine Hat and died while serving overseas in 2008. Stock trained with the South Alberta Light Horse before joining the Royal Canadian Engineers.

The curator and owner of the Ghost Squadron Military Museum, which is a privately owned collection that has 420 uniforms and artifacts spanning from 1840 to 1990, has been giving tours for the school. One of the uniforms in the school display is from the 88th Division and the museum has the pictures and records of the soldier who wore it along with another 52 uniforms from the same division.

There are two Second World War uniforms, one from the Royal Canadian Airforce and another from the US Army Airforce. It is interesting to note the US uniform also displays RCAF wings. Many Americans came up to Canada and joined the flight training schools of the RAF and RCAF. The Eagle Squadron was made up of these Americans flying British aircraft in the war prior to the USA joining.

A second smaller display shows a male and female uniform as it is important to remember how many women served as well. In the Canadian military they had the Royal Canadian Air Force women’s division, the Wrens (Women’s Royal Naval Service) and CWAC (Canadian Women’s Army Corps) who served in the Second World War.

Aethon, AeroVision, ANAVIA to develop BVLOS inspection with SAIT

Aethon Aerial Solutions Inc. and AeroVision Canada Inc. on November 2 announced a research and development agreement with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s Centre for Innovation and Research in Unmanned Systems and ANAVIA, a Swiss-based manufacture of heavy lift UAS vehicles.

The combined initiative will be part of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (SAIT) ongoing cooperation agreement between Canada and Switzerland related to Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) uncrewed air systems (UAS) operations.

Under the agreement, AeroVision Canada and Aethon will leverage the expertise in long endurance RPAS of SAIT’s Centre for Innovation and Research in Unmanned Systems (CIRUS), as well as ANAVIA’s recently released HT-100 UAS to begin long-range BVLOS missions for commercial applications related to powerline inspection and other liner corridors.

“We developed the HT-100 with the intent of creating a commercially viable drone with the endurance, reliability and payload capacity to make commercial BVLOS operations possible for qualified aerospace and aviation enterprises, enabling them to commence the next chapter in autonomous flight operations,” said Jon Andri Joerg, CEO of ANAVIA. “With a payload capacity of 50KG and an endurance of over three hours, the HT-100 will be able to carry the next generation of inspection and mapping payloads replacing operations previously only possible with manned helicopters.”

The Centre for Innovation and Research in Unmanned Systems (CIRUS) is a division of SAITs Applied Research and Innovation Services arm. “We believe the integration of the CIRUS team’s expert knowledge of BVLOS requirements and its proficiency in operating advanced heavy-duty [above 25Kg] long endurance civilian drones, such as the HT-100, provides a unique opportunity for the Aethon-AeroVision team to reduce to practice commercial BVLOS operational requirements to provide drone-based long-endurance powerline inspection and mapping,” said Shahab Moeini, the Operations Manager for CIRUS.

“The result of this cooperation will be our ability to meet the next generation needs of our existing clients in the electrical utility, oil and gas, transportation, and telecom sectors,” said Alastair Jenkins, the CEO of Aethon. “We believe combining the CIRUS team’s knowledge and expertise with our own research and development efforts will create a unique opportunity to revolutionize BVLOS operations. Our co-development of technology, hardware, software and operational safety procedures will allow us to offer safe and reliable long-range commercial BVLOS operations globally.”

Aethon Aerial Solutions holds significant experience in commercial deployment of airborne LiDAR and imaging systems and software. With operations in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, the company’s primary application is power line inspection and mapping and has performed over 800,000 kilometres of power line mapping using a combination of helicopters and UAVs. Aethon explains it has invested significantly in developing hardware and software related to a series of fully autonomous LiDAR and imaging systems marketed under the trade name Helios-1 and Helios-2 that are planned to be leased to utilities and helicopter operators domestically and internationally under the Aethon Affiliate Program.

“The industry and government have for many years espoused the potential long-term benefits that will accrue from Drone operations BVLOS, but improvements in both the technology and regulatory framework were necessary to achieve success,” said Trevor Bergmann, the President of AeroVision Canada. “Aethon and AeroVision Canada have cooperated on BVLOS and UAV operations with Transport Canada for over five years and have an established a Cooperation Agreement with Transport Canada related to UAS operations in close proximity to powerlines.”

Based in Nova Scotia, AeroVision Canada holds experience in traditional aviation, uncrewed aerial vehicles and complex Part IX operations. It provides BVLOS drone expertise for commercial and industrial purposes.

(Image: ANAVIA)

Pipistrel celebrates first electric aircraft delivery in Canada

Pipistrel on October 31 announced its first delivery in Canada of its all-electric, two-seat Velis Electro aircraft. The Canadian customer, the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA) at the University of Waterloo and its partner Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC), will use the Velis Electro to increase their collaborative research to evaluate battery powered electric flight in Canada.

Pipistrel continues to work with Transport Canada toward certification of the Velis Electro. Back in April 2022, Textron Inc. completed the purchase of Pipistrel d.o.o, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions d.o.o. and Pipistrel Italia S.R.L., known collectively as Pipistrel. Under the terms of the transaction, Textron purchased Pipistrel for a cash price of approximately €218 million ($375 million in Canadian funds).

“We are privileged to have the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics as our first Canadian customer for the Velis Electro,” said Gabriel Massey, president and managing director at Pipistrel. “This delivery is not only an exciting milestone for Pipistrel and the global presence of the Velis Electro, but also represents a steppingstone for Canada’s strategic investments to promote a greener aerospace industry and economy.”

The Velis Electro is described by Pipistrel as the world’s first and currently only in service, commercially available, type-certified electric aircraft. It earned EASA type-certification in 2020 and UK CAA certification in 2022. Pipistrel is currently pursuing a FAA airworthiness certificate for the Velis Electro.

Pipistrel states the two-seat, fixed-wing Velis Electro produces noise levels of only 60 decibels and no exhaust gases, while cruising at an average speed of 90 knots and covering a range of 108 nautical miles at a payload weight of 172 kg (378 lb).

(Photo: Textron)

Runway work at CYQT finished

— By Sandi Krasowski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal

Work on the Thunder Bay International Airport’s primary runway was completed two weeks ahead of schedule it reopened Oct 15.

The runway was shut down in May to accommodate the rehabilitation during the summer of all surfaces, storm sewers and lighting.

Ed Schmidtke, airport president and chief executive officer, was pleased with the $22-million project and said the work came in on budget with some funding from the Ministry of Transportation.

“Most of the work is sub-surface and is invisible to the traveller,” he said.

“We replaced 60-year-old sub-surface drainage pipes that had corroded over more than half a century of use. We did significant sub-surface repairs and crack sealing and of course, there is the new pavement and new LED lighting down the length of the runway.”

The lighting will make the runway brighter and more energy efficient.

“These updates will make the runway more available in certain types of conditions and because of all that deep sub-surface work, for decades to come,” Schmidtke added.

Key contractors on the job included the engineering firm Avia NG, Pioneer Construction and Nadin Contracting.

The runway opening means the rapid return of jet service to the community with Air Canada re-introducing its Airbus service beginning on Oct. 19. Flair Airlines will resume jet service on Nov. 1 and Sunwing will return with winter charters to Cuba and Cancun, Mexico in December.

(Image: Thunder Bay International Airport)

Earlton airport completes upgrades and looks forward

By Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker

The Earlton-Timiskaming Regional Airport in Ontario has completed $1.2 million in repairs and equipment upgrades, made possible through federal funding.

The airport is now poised for a new era as longtime airport authority chair Carman Kidd steps down. Other board members may also be reassigned with the start of a new municipal term. Kidd, currently the mayor of Temiskaming Shores, did not seek another term in the October 24 municipal election, and the airport authority board is made up by representatives of area municipalities who own and operate the airport.

Airport manager James Smith, who serves as manager through Loomex Group of Companies, contracted to assist at the airport, expressed gratitude for the work and support of Kidd over the years.

Kidd has been “a solid airport supporter,” said Smith. “He has had a major role in helping us get funding and looking at funding initiatives for us and driving that for us. He will be greatly missed and we wish him the best.”

The next four years for the new board has been readied with the completion of some important projects.

Smith explained that in the fall of 2021, the federal government had created the Regional Air Transportation Initiative (RATI). An application was made by the Earlton airport and a $1 million grant was approved. The airport had also made an application for COVID relief funding resulting in an additional $200,000 in federal monies. The combined funding has made it possible for the airport to purchase a new plow truck, and a self-propelled snowblower.

Eleven cross-sections on the runway have been repaired and the fuelling apron has been refinished, addressing some frost heaving that had been occurring. The airport also purchased a new line-painting machine. While the airport is still awaiting the arrival of its snowblower, due to delays and now expected in May or June of 2023, the old snowblower has received an oil change and had some mechanical issues fixed, said Smith, and will be used throughout the upcoming winter.

Meanwhile, it was a busy summer, he said.

“There was lots of work going on around the airport with the construction and apron repairs.”

Efforts are being made to hold the airport fuel price for aircraft down to $3.23 a litre. Other airports are selling it at $3.30 a litre, Smith said.

But the high price of fuel is making it cost prohibitive for a lot of people to fly, he noted.

Ornge air ambulance is currently flying in and out of the airport on average 28 times a month, he said.

“This is an important service this airport provides for this area,” he said.

Sights are set for the future with plans for business development, with which LOOMEX will assist, said Smith. The airport is on the lookout for someone who would be interested in setting up a flight training organization. Land development is another area where potential can be seen, and adjoining land would be suitable for the construction of a hanger or something else that would be aviation related, he said.

An existing hangar at the airport is currently private and farm equipment is being stored there, but Smith said the owner has expressed interest in working with the airport to allow the hangar to be leased out to anyone with an aviation-related operation.

(Photo: Earlton-Timiskaming Regional Airport)

Porter Aviation, OIAA investing over $65 million at YOW

Porter Aviation Holdings Inc., parent company of Porter Airlines, and the Ottawa International Airport Authority are investing over $65 million in YOW’s future.

Porter is in the process of building two aircraft hangars, over approximately 150,000 square feet, to maintain its growing fleet, featuring the new Embraer E195-E2 and existing De Havilland Dash 8-400. The Ottawa International Airport Authority (OIAA) is constructing a new taxiway and related infrastructure to support the hangar development, as well as future opportunities in this section of the airport.

The hangars are being built in two phases: Phase one is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023, and phase two in the first quarter of 2024. YOW will be a primary maintenance base for the E195-E2, with Porter hiring 200 local team members, including 160 Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AMEs).

“Ottawa has been a critical location for Porter throughout our history and the multi-million-dollar facilities we’re building to maintain aircraft here is only the latest example of our desire to meaningfully invest in Canada’s Capital Region,” said Michael Deluce, president and CEO, Porter Airlines. “We anticipate our presence in Ottawa will grow in the coming years, supported by the maintenance base and future aircraft deliveries that give us the ability to consider new routes.”

The airline has up to 100 E195-E2s on order, including 50 firm commitments and 50 purchase rights. The current Dash 8-400 fleet includes 29 aircraft.

OIAA is currently constructing Taxiway Romeo in the airport’s north field area. The $15 million taxiway represents the first airside expansion project in the AAIO’s 20-year history. It will accommodate Porter’s hangar development plans, as well as federal government needs, and possibly other commercial aviation-related development.

(Image: CNW Group/Porter Airlines)