Foremost Centre for Unmanned Systems

Canadian Unmanned is an active partner with the Village of Foremost and the CCUVS. Canadian Unmanned works closely with the CCUVS to promote the BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) capability at the Foremost Range in SE Alberta. It is anticipated Foremost will be the UAV / Drone training range of choice for Canadian and international companies to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for BVLOS in Canada.

Together with the Village of Foremost, the Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle Systems (CCUVS) has established the Foremost Centre for Unmanned Systems based out of the Foremost Aerodrome.

Foremost Alberta was strategically chosen as the location for the establishment of this innovative training and development centre for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technology. Geographically the region has unique attributes that make it an ideal location for the operation, development and training for UAV / Drone.


CCUVS has assisted numerous companies and UAV / Drone research institutions to fly out of Foremost over the last several years. These operations were subject to the limitations of their respective Special Flight Operating Certificates (SFOC) approved by Transport Canada. This has meant keeping the aircraft within the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of the pilot at all times. Generally this restricts operations to about 500 metres in any direction of the pilot and up to 122 metres above the ground. These restrictions are consistent with other commercial UAV / Drone operations throughout Canada.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems provide transformational technology with significant commercial benefits; however, to achieve its full potential, UAV / Drone operators will need the ability to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). The challenge is to ensure that these flights can be conducted with the same level of safety and reliability as traditional manned flight. This requires sophisticated communications technology, well trained operators, and the ability to “sense and avoid” any conflicts with other aircraft.

In order to safely develop UAV / Drone technology and train pilots for BVLOS flights, Canada needed a range with access to Restricted Airspace. This is where the Foremost Centre for Unmanned Systems comes into play.

Specializing in Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS)

In 2014, CCUVS received all the necessary approvals to manage a permanent area of Restricted Airspace for flying Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Southeast Alberta. This airspace designation is the first of its kind in Canada and will be available for UAV / Drone training, research and development for civil and commercial purposes. The airspace is particularly attractive for companies that wish to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), a capacity that opens up significant commercial opportunities. It is anticipated that flight operations could commence as early as the end of 2014.

With 700 square nautical miles (2400 square kilometres) of airspace designated for up to 18,000 feet above sea level, the Foremost Centre for Unmanned Vehicles opens up significant training, research and development possibilities for both Canadian and international companies. CCUVS will have the ability to close the airspace when approved flight operations are taking place, thereby significantly reducing any safety risks.

The Village of Foremost

The Village of Foremost is a small farming community, located 102 km southwest of Medicine Hat and 110 km east of Lethbridge on Highway 61. Established in 1913 as an agricultural service centre and incorporated as a village in 1950, today, Foremost has a population of over 500 and serves a trading area of over 2,000 people. A host of recreational facilities, a diversity of cultural activities, an award winning school and a broad range of businesses provide residents with a high quality of life. The community’s economic base is farming, with many generations of families continuing to operate successful farming operations.

The Foremost Aerodrome

The Foremost Aerodrome is located 1.6 km west of the village on Hwy 61.  It hosts a well kept 3000′ ft X 75′ runway with a generous maneuvering apron with fuel and hanger services.  The primary attributes that make this area so attractive for UAV / Drone operations are:

  • low population density,
  • low numbers of dwellings
  • absence of manmade towers and obstacles
  • flat prairie terrain, void of forested areas
  • very low number of manned aircraft flights below FL180
  • high numbers of VFR days and overall good weather
  • local community interest and support
  • easy access to operating area

The Restricted Airspace

The Restricted Airspace consists of two CYR’s with one in the west and one in the east. Together, the CYR’s total nearly 700 nautical miles in size. There is a third CYR that overlays the other two and goes up to 18,000 feet above sea level. The area is centered on the Pakowki Lake bed in the southern most reaches of Alberta in 40 Mile County. Some of the key features of this are:

  • Northern boundary follow Hwy 61 for easy VFR recognition
  • There are only two charted towers or manmade obstacles in the area
  • The south boundary of the area is 10 nm north of the Canada USA border
  • The entire area is located in G Class uncontrolled airspace
  • The closest Victor Airway V302 Medicine Hat / Lethbridge (center line) is located 23 nm northeast
  • There are no scheduled air flights along this Victor 302 air route.
  • Sparse population, .62 person per square mile outside of villages and hamlets
  • 116 Low height buildings outside of villages and hamlets
  • Mixed short grass ecosystem void of trees and forested areas.
  • VFR weather 90% year round
  • Foremost Aerodrome 3000’ X 75’ paved runway
  • Area average ground elevation 3000ft ASL

How to Fly in Foremost

In order to fly at Foremost, you will need to contact the CCUVS to verify availability and negotiate a suitable arrangement. Pricing will vary greatly depending on the timing, length, and complexity of the operations you propose. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

  • The Restricted Airspace is available from 1 August to 31 May. (In June and July, the airspace will not be closed off in order to avoid disruptions to the local agricultural community. Limited VLOS flights may still be available.)
  • All operators will still require a Special Flight Operating Certificate from Transport Canada. (CCUVS can help you through the SFOC application process, but all approval decisions are solely those of Transport Canada.)
  • You will be required to have a CCUVS Safety Officer on sight for all flight operations.

To learn more about the Foremost Centre for Unmanned Systems, please contact CCUVS.