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New aviation technology training taking flight at SAIT

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The next step in unmanned aviation is ready for liftoff in Calgary. 

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) will soon launch a remotely-piloted heavy-lift aviation training centre, which will help students to cut their teeth in the growing international market. 

The new program will train both pilots and technicians on remotely-operated aircraft with payload capacities of 55 pounds or more.

Details were unveiled during a ceremony Wednesday. 

"It's an exciting day, and I think it's another step in our long history of providing opportunities for Albertans that weren't available before," SAIT president David Ross said. "This drone technology is applicable across the country and around the world."

The remotely-operated sector is currently on the upswing. 

The technology can be used for search and rescue missions, land mine detection and remote-community medical supply delivery, among other things. 

"Drones, a number of years ago, didn't look like this and didn't act like this," Ross said. "They can fly at several hundred kilometres an hour, they have a range of several hundred kilometres, they really have grown significantly in terms of the technology."

The program launch is a collaboration with agencies in North America and Europe, including Swiss company Anavia, which works on aircraft design and development. 

Four of its large, unmanned helicopters are now at the school. 

Education will be provided through SAIT's Applied Research and Innovation Services faculty. 

According to SAIT, the training instructors will provide will be comparable to that of an aerial vehicle, where pilots receive an intensive education to operate a specific aircraft. 

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