Delivering supplies via the skies

In June of 2021, the Innovative Solutions Canada Program granted a small Québec-based business known as LaFlamme Aero Inc. a contract for a project with Transport Canada. The project would focus on testing the abilities of LaFlamme’s LX300 Unmanned Helicopter.

LaFlamme is a multigenerational family business which first began in Thetford Mines, Québec. Réjean LaFlamme started out making unmanned aircraft as a hobby. This hobby was eventually passed down to his sons, Enrick and David, and it wasn’t long before the family decided to turn their talent for building aircraft into a proper company.

After seeing the potential of LaFlamme’s unmanned helicopters to respond to emergencies, deliver medical supplies, and shipping cargo to remote Northern and Indigenous communities, Innovative Solutions Canada awarded LaFlamme funds to test their technology.

Put simply, LaFlamme’s are basically drones. Much like a traditional drone, the LaFlamme’s aircraft is operated via computer at a ground control station about 5 to 6 kilometres from the aircraft. The LX300 Unmanned Helicopter is around 3 metres long and 1.8 metres high, and can carry payloads of up to 180 kilograms. The aircraft can also fly for up to 10 hours without a break.

Testing of the LX300 Unmanned Helicopter began in the summer of 2022 at the CED Test Complex in Alma, Québec. The first phase of testing evaluated the helicopter’s ability to fly and land, and its endurance in carrying payloads up to 180 kilograms. The team at LaFlamme and Transport Canada also tested the aircraft’s maximum altitude, speed, and distance it could fly from the controller.

The second phase of testing will take place in Ear Falls, Ontario later this year. This phase will test the LX300’s ability to successfully deliver cargo to a remote Northern community.

Future versions of LaFlamme’s aircraft will use a different type of fuel. As LaFlamme hopes to work with the Royal Canadian Navy in the future, they hope to switch the LX300’s fuel from diesel to kerosene. Kerosene is less explosive than diesel, which could reduce the risk of an aircraft landing on a navy vessel with explosive goods onboard.