Canadian Veterans RPAS Training & Pilot Network

Task Force Drone

Task Force Drone is an initiative envisioned by Retired Major General Hines and military spouse, Kate McKenna, to provide veterans with a challenging, accessible employment opportunity that uses their military skills and expertise. Volatus Aerospace has depth, North American-wide businesses and broad RPAS integrated competencies that can offer veterans a training platform and on-the-job training which is vital to a successful career in the RPAS service industry. Matt Johnson is the lead on this project (see Matt’s bio below).

The program is split into four phases:

  1. Download the Transport Canada BASIC Remote Piloted Aircraft System (“RPAS”) workbook that will guide you through the initial certification to fly an RPAS in Canada. (See the form below.)
  2. Task Force Drone Online modules. This module (described below) takes you through all the classroom studies you need to have completed before starting in-field practical teaching. It also includes practice assignments using your DJI Mini 2.
  3. In-person training over five days. This module introduces you to other RPAS platforms, sensors, data capture and analysis, and the skills you need to get started as a drone service pilot.
  4. On-the-Job-Training (“OJT”) – a vital element in your journey to becoming an effective and skilled pilot.

OJT – (On the Job Training)

One of the critical elements of any pilot’s training is in the field. Once qualified through the Volatus Task Force Drone training program, it is vital that participants work with our expert teams on jobs and face the challenges of real-time data capture. As we expand our network and service provision coast-to-coast, North and South America, qualified and experienced pilots will become more and more critical for our business. This may mean further training in GIS (geographical information systems), third-party photogrammetry products, or more time working with our videography/cinematography experts – Lee Dodson is our lead (see his bio below).

We have worked hard to meet Veterans Affairs funding criteria and can provide a detailed guide. Please use this form to request that guide.

Drone Service Provider

Veteran Affairs Canada Funding

We have worked hard to collaborate with stakeholders in the Canadian Veterans space to create a Veteran-focused training program that meets the industry’s RPAS service needs. For details on that funding and how it works, please fill out this Information Request Form.


    “At Volatus Aerospace, we take pride in the work we do and the service we deliver. Many of our team are Veterans, and my son proudly serves as a Major in the Royal Canadian Artillery stationed in Petawawa. The drone industry is expanding exponentially every day. New use cases arrive regularly as more people realize the benefits that drone technology delivers.  Our business is growing coast-to-coast, and we realize that we need to train drone pilots who share our standards of safety, quality, and excellence. Veterans possess years of field training, leadership principles, and a mindset that is ideal for the challenges drone pilots face. We look forward to working with you.”

    Glen Lynch, CEO of Volatus Aerospace


    Our mission is to train Veterans and Military Family Members in RPAS Operations and Technical skills so that they can find meaningful and well-paying jobs in the industry.


    Our vision is to be the leading Canadian Pilot Network with a reputation for unparalleled excellence and provide a career funnel for releasing military members.

    Task Force Drone


    Free with Sign-Up – this WorkBook provides everything you need to obtain a Transport Canada Basic RPAS Pilot license.

    Once you have obtained your BASIC, you can enroll for the ADVANCED program.

    Task Force Drone
    M100 flying reconnaissance

    Canada's Drone Industry - A Brief Overview

    Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (“RPAS”) are commonly known as drones, but you will also see UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or UAS (Unmanned Aerial System). They come in three formats:

    • Fixed-Wing,
    • Rotary-Wing – Quadcopter, Multi-Rotor, etc.
    • Hybrid, VTOL (Vertical Take-Off & Landing enabled)

    By removing the need for a crew, RPAS can be built lighter and smaller, focused either on cargo (payload) or data collection.

    Multi-rotor RPAS can tightly navigate around infrastructure or remain stationary for the purpose of data collection, while fixed-wing RPAS can collect data or transport goods over large distances. In both cases, the typical critical systems for an RPAS include the aircraft, its propulsion system, a flight control unit to automate the control of the aircraft, a suite of flight sensors (GPS, altimeter, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) among others), a communications link to transfer data and send command & control (C2) instructions, and a ground control system for the pilot. Together, these systems enable a new class of aircraft able to collect valuable data and operate without any crew on board. (Source: Ontario Society of Professional Engineers)

    Every day we are developing new ways to use RPAS. Our ability to automate aerial operations reduces weight, energy use (providing a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions), and cost. Advances in camera sensors, LiDAR, and improvements in data analysis and AI/machine learning provide unique commercial opportunities. In 2016, there were 110,000 drones sold for commercial use, and drones as a service (Drone Service Provider – “DSP”) were valued at US$6.6 billion globally (Source: Goldman Sachs research).

    Between now and 2020, we forecast a $100 billion market opportunity for drones—helped by growing demand from the commercial and civil government sectors.

    Source: Goldman Sachs Research

    While Business Insider says:

    There’s no arguing the spike in drone industry growth that has occurred in the last few years – the drone services market size is expected to grow to $63.6 billion by 2025, and Insider Intelligence predicts consumer drone shipments will hit 29 million by 2021.

    Sales of US consumer drones to dealers surpassed $1.25 billion in 2020, according to Statista. Goldman Sachs forecasts the total drone market size to be worth $100 billion—supported by this growing demand for drones from the commercial and government sectors.

    Which Industries Use RPAS?

    • Construction & Heavy Industry – the value of global RPAS Service Market $11 billion. Services include monitoring infrastructure and personnel, volumetric calculations of large deposits of material, and environmental data collection. (For more see 2017 IOP Conference Series)
    • Agriculture – the value of global RPAS Service Market $5.9 billion. Services include collection and analysis of hy[erspectral imaging data allowing farmers to measure the health of their crops through key indicators including irrigation, levelling, vegetation index and disease monitoring. We can also tell you when a crop is ready for harvest, we can identify the gender of plants (important for Cannabis farmers), and so much more! RPAS in precision agriculture is a game changer. (For more see Science Direct.)
    • Infrastructure – the value of the global RPAS Service Market is $1.3 billion. Services include regular and reliable monitoring of utility infrastructure, oil and gas platforms and pipelines, hydroelectric dams, nuclear power stations, wind farms, telecom infrastructure, energy transmission lines, roads, and bridges. Our RPAS can fly long distances, collecting data that can be analyzed in real-time or uploaded, allowing engineers to accurately pinpoint anomalies or areas of risk. (For more see Springer.)
    • Natural Resources – the value of the global RPAS service market is $100 million. Sectors include mining and forestry, where the RPAS delivers surveying and prospecting operations. RPAS collects geographic data over a large area through imaging and LiDAR, we integrate that information with geographical information systems (GIS) or analyze the data for surveying metrics (tree levels, canopy height, and tree counts). We also do environmental protection and wildlife management studies – most recently in Churchill assisting in Beluga Whale management. (For more see here.)

    These are just a few of the industries that we work for through Drone Service Provider division. The true benefits of RPAS will not be seen until we have a fully autonomous RPAS operating Beyond-Visual-Line-Of-Sight (“BVLOS”) authorized and integrated in our national airspace. That is why we work hard to promote industry regulatory compliance and support the work of regulators.

    Drone flying in sunset






    DJI Matrice 300 RTK Drone


    Drone Service Provider


    Volatus Aerospace has one of the largest, most competent and respected Pilot Networks in North America. Our pilots are trained, tested, certified and insured. They are provided with the latest technology including sensors and RPAS platforms.

    It’s important to note that the Drone Service Provider industry remains seasonal. That means that when the bad weather hits, our ability to fly is hindered. That said, we are moving swiftly to develop high endurance and robust RPAS solutions. Today, however, any individual who wishes to become a drone service pilot needs to understand that the industry is seasonal and will not provide year-round employment.


    1. TP15263 Knowledge areas required by Transport Canada for RPAS Pilot Certification – see description below of content covered.
    2. Site Surveys, Checklists, & Basic RPAS Controls
    3. Flight Practical Exercises & Assignments to Do at Home with Your DJI Mini 2
    4. Introduction to Payload Systems

    This course is designed for new or experienced remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) operators who are now required to complete the Advanced RPAS Pilot exam under Transport Canada regulations as per the document TP 15263, “Knowledge Requirements for Pilots of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, 250g up to and Including 25 kg, Operating within Visual Line of Sight.” The course includes a comprehensive review of the rules and regulations governing the operation of RPAS in Canada under Part IX of the Canadian Aviation Regulations. We also cover the Flight Review process and the process of applying for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) – an important step towards BVLOS preparedness.

    Section 1 of Phase #1 includes:

    Canadian Aviation Regulations | Flight and Aerodynamic Theory | Aeronautical Safety | Essentials of Meteorology |  Aerodromes and Airports | Operating and Flight Rules | Aeronautical Maps and Charts | Air Law | Communicating with NAV CANADA | SFOC Application Process | Insurance Requirements | Radio Operators Certification | Experiential Scenario Analysis Radio Theory | Flight Operations | Flight and Mission Planning | Pilot Navigation | Dealing with Emergencies | Weather Constraints | Human Factors | Airspace Recognition | Pilot Discipline


    1. Flight Review & Emergency Procedures Training
    2. RPAS Setup Control & Function
    3. Flight Modes & Calibration Procedures (DJI Assistant)
    4. Advanced Close Proximity Piloting Skills (NIST Obstacle Course Training)
    5. Aerial Photography & Videography Techniques (Object Tracking & Compound Motions)
    6. Data Workflows (Photogrammetry, Video / Photo Editing / Data Management)
    7. RPAS Accessories (Payload Release, Parachute, & Tether Systems)
    8. Payload Systems
    9. Basic Drone Thermography
    10. RPAS Inspection Techniques (Buildings, Structures, Bridges, Paved Surfaces)
    11. Inspecting Infrastructure (Solar Panels, Wind Turbines, Power Lines, Cell Towers)
    12. Dual Control RPAS Operational Skills (DJI Matrice)
    13. Mission Planning & Coordination
    14. Introduction to Fixed-Wing & VTOL RPAS systems
    15. Oblique & Nadir Mapping Photogrammetry Methods
    16. TFK & PPK GPS Positioning Basics
    17. Orthomosaic Stitching & 3D Point Cloud Construction Processes
    18. Data Management & Analysis
    19. Search & Rescue Techniques with third-party apps


    Successful participants will receive:

    TRANSPORT CANADA ADVANCED RPAS PILOT CERTIFICATE  – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems 250 g up to and including 25 kg, Operating within Visual-Line-of-Sight (VLOS)

    ADVANCED RPAS GROUND SCHOOL – In accordance with Transport Canada TP-15263 Knowledge Requirements



    This course is designed to meet the industry needs of RPAS Services. The goal of the 2021/22 Fall/Winter/Spring sessions is to rollout a qualified Veteran Drone Pilot network for the 2022 season. The total cost is $4,600 and includes the Mini Mavic 2 Combo (excluding taxes).

    It is important that all participants practise their flying skills, which is why we are including the purchase of a DJI Mavic Mini 2, Combo Package. We set regular practical assignments and challenges for participants. The DJI Mavic Mini 2 weighs less than 250g and as such is easier to fly more often than larger drones.


    Matt in the Field


    Matthew Johnson is responsible for developing and managing agricultural programming at Volatus Aerospace and is based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba at the heart of the Canadian Prairies. After 10 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, and while teaching high school mathematics, Matthew began operating drones in 2015, as one of the first service providers in the Ag space in Canada. He started a drone pilot training program in 2016 and travelled across North America training UAS pilots to meet both Transport Canada and FAA regulatory requirements while developing an international, cross-country drone pilot network.

    Through first-hand experience as an operator, he has witnessed the progressive developments of drone hardware and software technologies over the years in the agriculture sector, understanding that the time has finally come to turn the corner on aerial data utilization in agriculture.

    Matthew specializes in developing and executing crop research programs, utilizing high resolution and multispectral imagery to deliver quantitative data analytics to his customers. In 2018, Matthew was named as one of the Top 7 Drone Visionaries in Precision Agriculture by the Commercial UAV News and was a keynote speaker at the Drone Synergies Conference in Dubai. Most recently, Matthew spoke on a panel of AgTech leaders at the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas in 2021.

    Lee in the Field


    Lee Dodson has worked in the oil and gas industry all over the world conducting remote inspection services both underwater and with drones. He is also highly experienced in cinematography, movie production, and photography work, and has taught these skills to others worldwide. (See here for the full story celebrating his earning the title “Innovator of the Year.”)

    “After taking a step back from the offshore work, I realized no one was offering professional legally operated drone services in Atlantic Canada,” says Lee. “I felt my background in inspections and working with drones, movies, and cinematography could combine into a business.”

    The Volatus Training Academy in PEI is managed by Lee and is registered as a private training school with the PEI Department of Education and Life-long Learning. It is also the Volatus Centre of Excellence for BVLOS Training.

    “Just before Christmas, I trained the Charlottetown Police Department drone team, and they have already put their training to practical use by using a drone to find a woman lost in the snow.

    “I also provide support for onshore search and rescue. First Responders are looking at drones to deliver things such as epi-pens, Automated External Defibrillators, and drugs to injured people in remote locations before Paramedics can arrive on site.

    “Fire departments can use thermal cameras attached to drones to detect hot spots, see-through smoke to find trapped people, and assess roof conditions. Contractors can use thermal cameras for inspection work to see where heat is escaping from the roof. As thermal cameras become smaller and more capable, they have become a less expensive alternative to manned aircraft.”

    Lee is working with the UPEI Climate Lab to assist in training its staff to operate drones. “A multispectral sensor can be attached to a drone which can detect plants under stress. We can pinpoint the exact location of problems in the field so that pesticides can be directed to that specific area, which has a financial and environmental value.”

    Want to know more?