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Tom Wade

Chief Pilot and Facility Manager, Airborne Research and Innovation, University of Edinburgh (ECCI Associate)

Tom Wade runs the Airborne Research and Innovation (ARI) facility at the University of Edinburgh (, operating a fleet of manned and unmanned aircraft and a suite of sophisticated sensors in support of our research and teaching activities.

Tom is a qualified commercial pilot, and has been involved in aviation and flight safety management in various capacities for over 25 years, including the development of electronic charting and navigation systems, as a flight instructor, and, since 2006, as the manager of the University’s airborne facility. Edinburgh was among the first institutions to adopt unmanned aircraft (drones) for scientific sensing purposes, and have led the way in terms of sensor and platform development, safety management and regulatory compliance in this new and exciting field.

The facility's combination of manned and unmanned platforms provides us with a world leading multi-scale airborne sensing capability with minimal environmental footprint, and sensor technologies range from atmospheric and meteorological measurements to remote sensing using  multispectral, hyperspectral and photogrammetric imaging and laser-scanning (LiDAR) systems.

Tom's work includes both the direct support of research and teaching activities using these methods and the training of individual researchers so that they can operate independently on remote fieldwork. He is also heavily involved in developing our capabilities and establishing and maintaining our safety and compliance processes and has strong interests in the future development of airborne sensing systems and sustainable aviation technologies across the industry.

ECCI's Associates are leaders in climate change research, policy and practice in Scotland, the UK and globally. Find out more: ECCI Associates.