The Three Keys to Safe BVLOS Drone Operations
PrecisionHawk just wrapped up three years of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone research with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Their extensive fieldwork focused on developing operational and safety practices, in addition to creating recommendations for technologies that enable BVLOS flight. For the full BVLOS report, read their whitepaper.
So what did they discover?
Flying is the Easy Part
To sum it up: flying is the easy part. The challenging aspect of BVLOS is ensuring that the underlying support systems and infrastructure are in place, such as control systems, sensors and data analytics. In short, the safety ecosystem around BVLOS drone flight must be airtight to conduct successful operations. See our topline report of the three necessary components for safe BVLOS flight operations.
The Three Keys for Safe BVLOS Operations
Use the Right Assistive and Detection Technology
Technology is essential to any drone flight. For BVLOS, the technology must be able to identify cooperative and non-cooperative aircraft that intrude the drone operator’s airspace, and take evasive action. Also, the technology needs to provide status alerts during operation to indicate reduced functionality, such as lag, latency, and failure.
Follow BVLOS Safety Protocol
Flying a drone beyond where the eye can see requires a specific safety protocol. Here are a few safety standards to keep in mind:
- Make sure the pilot is aware of existing airspace classes, temporary flight restrictions, and no-fly zones.
- Conduct pre-flight checks of hardware to make sure everything is functional.
- Execute the appropriate operations in the event of an in-flight failure.
BVLOS Drone Operator Training
Specific training is required to fly BVLOS. It’s important to know that pilots must have sufficient experience in VLOS and receive BVLOS-specific training (at least 15-20 hours). A practical performance evaluation (in-field test) is necessary to make sure the training is complete.
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The BVLOS Drone Platform
To conduct BVLOS successfully, operators should use a required technology portfolio, including:
BVLOS Flight Requirements
A BVLOS solution must include hardware- and/or software-based systems that transmit the live trajectory information of the sUAS.
Real-time Manned Aircraft Data Feed
Cooperative aircraft, and their location and trajectory, must be displayed at one second latency or better.
Detect and Avoid System
To detect non-cooperative aircraft, a BVLOS system is required to have an aircraft detect and avoid system with a minimum range of three nautical miles in a 360° field of regard.
The assistive technology portfolio must present alerts, visual and audible, to the pilot.