WISA Blog Posts


Through the collaboration of many disciplines and help from multiple faculties, Waterloo aviation students were able to use their skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to quantify the impacts of flight operations at our local airport on surrounding communities.

Electric aviation offers a solution to airport noise by replacing the fossil fuel engine with a quiet electric motor. Of course, there is still noise from the propeller, so how big is the reduction in noise by changing to electric power?

Landing and taking off are two of the most important skills for pilots to learn and perfect. As electric planes target the flight school training market, one important question is, how well do e-planes (and their batteries) support this type of training?

WISA researcher Paul Parker from Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment demonstrated his skill and fascination with solar powered flight by placing third at the Canadian National Gliding Championships, held July 26 through August 4 at the Southern Ontario Soaring Association (SOSA) airfield in Rockton, Ontario.

It is no secret that the aviation industry is beginning to face a massive shortage of pilots. Professionals, industry leaders, and news organisations all agree. It is also no secret that aviation is a male-dominated industry and female pilots make up only 6% of the pilot workforce. As pilot supply is now a global challenge, this issue creates a unique opportunity where recruiting women and other underrepresented groups to the cockpit is an important part of the solution, giving the next generation an incredible opportunity to change the dynamic and traditional culture within the industry.

Greetings, fellow aviation enthusiasts, prospective students, and industry partners! Today, I want to share my incredible experience working on safety and sustainability projects with industry partners and how it has shaped my perspective as an undergraduate aviation student. So grab your aviator shades, buckle up, and let's dive right in!

Think about the first time you were at a brand-new airport as a solo student. Were you nervous or overwhelmed? If you’re not a pilot, imagine being in a new place for the first time, a place where it is vital to do everything perfectly. Would you feel stressed out? As student pilots, we’ve all had similar experiences, arriving at an airport having no idea where to park, get fuel or get your much desired logbook stamp. To support our peers and avoid these issues in the future, a group of student pilots are creating a new initiative. 

With small e-planes aiming for the pilot training market, a key question is how many times can you take-off, fly a standard circuit, and land before you have to recharge? Of course, batteries will improve in the future, but what is practical with today’s technology?

When I signed up to volunteer at this year’s Girls Can Fly to represent the University of Waterloo, I had no idea what to expect, and simply put I was blown away. Volunteering, and being able to represent the university was a great honour. Entertaining the children who attended the event, by creating a tornado in a bottle, and answering questions regarding the aviation program was all very enjoyable.

Monday, May 16th marked a successful first day of e-plane ground runs for the Pipistrel Velis Electro. The Velis team, consisting of Kyra, Tyler, Gabriel and Dr. Paul Parker, performed several ground runs to verify the performance of our brand new electric aircraft. 

Three UW aviation students joined WISA’s Paul Parker and the WWFC team to put the Pipistrel Velis Electro through its first set of Canadian ground runs. The goal was to measure how much mission time or training time is available in the e-plane under different power settings. Before flying the aircraft in the air, these ground runs will give pilots a good indication of how much time they can plan to use.  

Innovative approaches for pilot training and assessment are urgently needed to meet aviation needs as the demand for pilots in Canada is projected to exceed training capacity by 2030. Technology such as eye tracking could be harnessed to add value to the currently used instruction methods to make pilot training more efficient in cost and time. 

My thoughts and experience at WISA Talks: Drones in Science and Industry

I am in the last year of the Geography and Environmental Management in Geomatics program at Waterloo. I originally enrolled in the course GEOG 270- Knowledge Requirements of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) as my fun interesting elective. Through participating in the WISA Talks: Drones in Science and Industry session, it transformed my perspective of drones into something more than that: a potential career path.  

My name is Aiden, a second-year Geography and Aviation student and a member to the Waterloo Warriors Varsity Track team and the University of Waterloo’s sports business association.  It is an honour to share my aviation experiences with you, and I aim to inspire you to achieve dreams beyond your imagination and leave a lasting impact through your legacy.

As many upper-year aviation students complete their final study terms at the University of Waterloo, the transition from university to the aviation industry can be difficult and demanding. To ease this process, the University of Waterloo Aviation Society (UWAS) came together to create the first Professional Development Day specifically targeted for Waterloo aviation students.

In aviation, the plane gets all the attention and photo ops. However, it does not work alone. Chargers may be overlooked, but they are essential.

Before you can fly an electric plane, like the Pipistrel Velis Electro, you need a source of electricity that matches the input needs of the battery and e-plane system. It sounds simple to plug in, charge and go. However, when an industry is new, there are lots of questions and decisions to get started.

The Sustainable Aeronautics Summit at Waterloo Region International Airport heralded the call by leaders in industry, government, and academia to create innovative sustainable aeronautics futures on Wednesday, 5 October 2022.

Two days later, the University of Waterloo demonstrated its commitment toward the sustainable aviation goal with the arrival of the first Pipistrel Velis Electro in Canada. (Admittedly, the whole process has taken over two years with discussions, applications, rejections, revisions, selection and final refinements, so the two day period is primarily good luck based on many earlier actions.)

The rapid evolution of electric propulsion systems creates an opportunity to cut emissions by replacing conventional engines with electric motors using low carbon electricity. This trend is starting with small planes and projected to grow rapidly over the next decade. To date, no e-planes have been certified in Canada. However, a smaller, ultralight e-plane, the Pipistrel Alpha Electro, is available and the first one imported into Canada has now accumulated 500 hours of flying time. Paul Parker, the Associate Director – Environment, WISA, went for a flight and asked the owner, James Douma, about his assessment of the new technology.