BVLOS Waiver Granted

  • LiDAR
  • UAS

14 Jun 2021

ARE is Awarded Waiver for BVLOS Operations in Mountainous Terrain

Utility Tower Inspection

On April 27, 2021, ARE was awarded a BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) waiver for sUAS (small Unmanned Aircraft Systems) utility line inspections and LiDAR data collection in mountainous terrain. This waiver is one of only 70 BVLOS waivers that have been granted in the country. In part, due to the complexity of the flight operations required to maintain a high level of safety when the drone cannot be seen by the remote pilot.

Drones are being widely used for utility line inspections all over the country as a way to increase efficiency, provide more accurate data and access hard-to-reach locations. Although drones have improved the ability to access some sites, there are still challenges when it comes to mountainous or hilly terrain. One of the main challenges being the drone operator and controller need to be able to maintain visual line of sight with the aircraft per FAA Part 107 regulations.

In order for a Remote Pilot to operate a drone beyond their visual line of sight, they must obtain a waiver to the regulation requiring the operator to maintain sight of the drone at all times. In a collaborated effort, ARE and Eversource Energy are working toward the goal of utilizing BVLOS operations throughout the Eversource Transmission network. This waiver is a major steppingstone in proving out the safety case, technology and ConOps (Concept of Operations) for the end objective.

The waiver application was developed by the ARE team. The operations will utilize the Harris Aerial H6 Hybrid UAS to conduct inspections and collect LiDAR data of a 12-mile stretch of Eversource’s transmission line ROW.  The waiver application limits the flight area to a specific ROW that is located in a rural area of the mountain region of New Hampshire.

“We are excited to be among the leaders of the UAS industry in helping to advance this technology safely as we further integrate into the National Airspace System. We are looking forward to continued advancements with BVLOS Operations in collaboration with Eversource Energy.” Says Sam Johnson, Director of UAS Operations at ARE.

The ARE team will begin BVLOS operations, utilizing the approved waiver, later this month.

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