Sask Polytechnic Explores Potential of Drone Training Course

Robert Thomas

As part of an economic development initiative, the City of Moose Jaw, Sask Polytechnic, CAE and the Moose Jaw Municipal Stakeholder Committee has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU), to explore and promote the potential of an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) training course, under the auspices of Sask Polytechnic.

According to the MOU, the initiative is part of a plan to expand the Moose Jaw Municipal Airport, as laid out by the Economic Development Commission in 2014.

The Economic Development Commission in 2014 created a Municipal Airport Development Plan for upgrading the airport to have a 4,000 to 5,000 foot long runway, a crosswind strip, lighting, aprons, taxiways and a functional terminal building.

Funding for any major Moose Jaw Municipal Airport expansion is not included in the Five Year Capital Budget.

The MOU calls for cooperation in considering conducting a feasibility study into the creation of a UAS or drone training program.

The MOU states it’s purpose is to “achieve meaningful cooperation in the areas outlined herein.”
The memorandum also calls for the exploration of the potential need of a joint use classroom building, labs, hangar space and other facilities at the municipal airport.

Included in the MOU is Sask Polytechnic, at its discretion to assist in the enhancement and expansion of the municipal airport. The MOU does not state exactly what that all entails.
CAE, under the MOU, is to provide technical advice to Sask Polytechnic in development of the potential program, plus additionally, if the learning opportunity proceeds, to provide the actual equipment, technology and expertise to run the program.

The MOU also calls on the City to provide assistance to Sask Polytechnic; to provide reasonable assistance towards the identification and development of any UAS program.
The City also commits to looking at providing additional space for Sask Polytechnic at the municipal airport.

The MOU states CAE’s involvement is in part due to its involvement in the federal government’s Industrial and Technology Benefits program (ITB). ITB is a program to enhance and improve Canadian capabilities. CAE participation is part of its obligation to ITB and may use participation in the program to access existing credits.

In 2017, the Moose Jaw Airport Authority Working Group (MJAAWG) was conditionally awarded $500,000 to turn the municipal airport into an airport authority, based in part of potential use by the 15 Wing NATO Flight Training Program. The City, as well as the RM of Moose Jaw, are to provide a $30,000 annual operating grant as part of that deal.

Both the Department of National Defence (DND) and CAE have denied lobbying the City on behalf of using the municipal airport for 15 Wing training purposes. Both have stated any lobbying efforts regarding the military use of the municipal airport done by any of their personnel was done as individuals and not on behalf of either organization.

SEE RELATED: DND and CAE Deny Lobbying Efforts

It is unknown how far the proposed UAS course has advanced, if any, past the MOU stage

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