In May, the FAA asked for public input on requests for waivers to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS.) Phoenix Air Unmanned, uAvionix, Zipline, and UPS Flight Forward all applied for waivers: today, FAA announced that Pheonix Air Unmanned has been granted authorization to operate BVLOS for “aerial work, aerial photography, survey and powerline and pipeline patrol and inspection. The authorization allows these operations below 400 feet altitude over certain roads and sparsely populated areas below pre-planned flight paths.”
The agency is reviewing the other requests.
The authorization allows BVLOS flight with an uncrewed vehicle weighing more than 55 pounds, the SwissDrones SVO 50 V2 UAS – a multipurpose uncrewed helicopter. BVLOS is a significant issue for a wide range of industries: from long range infrastructure to completely remote operations or drone-in-a-box solutions, directed from a control center a significant distance away.
Phoenix Unmanned will operate the SVO 50 V2 UAS, which has a special airworthiness certificate, for training, research and development: so that they can evaluate the aircraft before applying for the authorizations required for regular flight. A major provider of mapping and inspection services, the company says that they are exploring the use of larger aircraft in order to accommodate business needs for greater flight endurance and payload capacity. Phoenix will operate under the waiver in rural and sparsely populated areas.
The waiver is a win for Phoenix and for the FAA. While the agency has not yet indicated when a final rule on BVLOS flight may be expected, they have steadily granted more waivers in an effort to continue to gather pertinent data from the field. From the FAA announcement:
The FAA is focused on developing standard rules to make BVLOS operations routine, scalable and economically viable. The agency chartered the Beyond Visual Line of Sight Aviation Rulemaking Committee on June 9, 2021 to provide safety recommendations to the FAA. We are reviewing their final report.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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