PrecisionHawk, an FAA Pathfinder partner, released its report on expanding Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone operations. The report is the result of three years of analysis performed in partnership with the FAA and MITRE, and outlines complete requirements for flying drones BVLOS.
This final Pathfinder report serves as a blueprint for enterprises to develop BVLOS drone operations and waiver cases. The report outlines a comprehensive safety case and standards to fly drones BVLOS and has yielded critical information to the FAA regarding drone operations.
Key takeaways from the report:
- 3 necessary components for BVLOS drone operations: Detection, Safety, and Drone Operator Training
- To date, more than twelve hundred BVLOS waiver applications have been submitted to the FAA by commercial drone operators—99% have failed to be approved
- Localized BVLOS operations in low-risk environments can be conducted safely with proper assistive technology, training and hardware
- Assistive technology keeps the pilot in command (PIC) aware of intruding aircraft, enabling them to take evasive maneuvers if necessary
“Technology must be integrated to identify cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft, pilots must be aware of existing airspace classes, temporary flight restrictions, and no-fly zones, and pilots must receive BVLOS-specific training to ensure a safety ecosystem around BVLOS drone flight,” said Dr. Allison Ferguson, director airspace research at PrecisionHawk.
One of the most pressing challenges facing the drone industry is regulation. As with many industries, drone technology is developing much faster than the regulatory bodies can keep up.
Here, the cautious nature of the aviation industry is in contrast to the speed of innovation. It is precisely the FAA’s conservative nature and careful regulations that have made the United States’ airspace the safest in the world.
The FAA’s primary concern is uncontrolled flying or, a rogue drone, that puts lives and vital infrastructure in danger. The agency must be assured that drones sharing the sky with manned aircraft will not result in midair collisions and that the risk of damage to people and property on the ground is mitigated.
As it may take a while for regulations to take shape and we may not have drones delivering products to our doorsteps next week or month. But it does pave the way to a future where drones are routinely seen in city skies. The Pathfinder report is a significant step towards such future, as has been envisioned by Amazon and other companies.