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.