The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an approval to drone maker uAvionix to conduct beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flights by using the North Dakota Vantis system.
With support from the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, uAvionix demonstrated that it established adequate risk mitigation to satisfy required safety standards for the specified BVLOS operation within the National Airspace System (NAS).
This sets a precedent as the FAA determined that the Vantis system meets the applicable requirements of industry consensus standards, or an alternative set of requirements that ensure safe integration of routine BVLOS unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations in the NAS.
Trevor Woods, executive director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site said:“Today solidifies North Dakota’s leadership in aviation and UAS innovation. It is a significant advance in the evolution of UAS policy, redefining what is possible in the skies of tomorrow.”
This approval provides for repeatability – an exemption, which is technically rulemaking, that can be referenced for future approvals in a much faster manner. More importantly it goes beyond the original applicant, working for the whole industry.
With this exemption approval, the process is smoother for demonstrably safe BVLOS operations, especially in North Dakota, where the infrastructure can be leveraged for repeatable operations. The same, or similar infrastructure can be used in other geographies.
North Dakota claims to lead the way in bringing UAS to commercial sectors safely and economically with Vantis. This adds to the foundation that Vantis has set for the next phase of operation “as the state continues to lead the way for autonomy and automation.”
The Northern Plains UAS Test Site, administering Vantis for the state of North Dakota, partnered with Thales USA to develop and implement the UAS system. It allows pilots to command and control BVLOS UAS and remain well clear of other aircraft.
Vantis consists of ground-based aviation infrastructure, like that used in traditional aviation, which significantly lowers the barrier of entry to BVLOS flights for multiple users.
Frank Matus, director for the Americas at Thales USA, the state’s infrastructure partner for Vantis, added: “We thank the FAA for acknowledging that our approach to BVLOS in North Dakota maintains the same safety standards that the agency expects for all users within the national airspace. We continue to collaborate with the FAA as regulations evolve to ensure that Vantis meets the needs of all stakeholders.”
In April, NPUASTS prepared to support statewide emergency response efforts following Governor Doug Burgum’s emergency declaration for spring flooding.