FAA Issues BVLOS Waiver for Commercial UAS Inspections

Soaring Eagle's waiver allows operations nationwide without restrictions to specific areas during specific time limits By Mike Ball / 02 Nov 2022
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Soaring Eagle Technologies has confirmed that it has been awarded one of the first waivers by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) commercial inspection missions under operational guidelines rather than specific operations in restrained geographical areas.

The approval is nationwide and based on meeting operational parameters, not restricted to specific areas during specific time limits. This waiver allows Soaring Eagle Technologies clients to collect data such as high-resolution images or LiDAR more quickly and safely than with manned aviation.

The most recent FAA approval for flying BVLOS for commercial missions allows asset managers to partner with Soaring Eagle Technologies to inspect electric utility corridors and other critical infrastructure and collect information on the condition of assets or vegetation with greater efficiency and return on investment. This waiver enables commercial and industrial clients as well as utilities and other critical infrastructure managers to inspect large geographical areas, ranging from 800-3000 acres in a day for light detection and ranging (LiDAR) or photogrammetry, with a high degree of granularity.

The long-range BVLOS inspection is used to conduct vegetation and other audits as well as for detailed mapping over large geographical areas, all currently carried out by foot or via flying manned aircraft. BVLOS is a more competitive alternative for mapping large areas, including surveying land for large construction projects such as solar fields, electrical utility construction, and large-footprint buildings. BVLOS is also used for controlled burn overwatch, right-of-way audits, farming and agriculture, as well as other vast distance applications.

Noah Ruiz, Chief Pilot for Soaring Eagle Technologies and recipient of the waiver, commented: “This is big news for clients needing more efficient, reliable, greener and safer inspections of large geographic areas and critical infrastructure. The advanced technology is long-awaited for uses ranging from transmission and distribution, engineering and construction, and other critical infrastructure as well as for post-disaster assessments to recover power promptly and safely.”

“There is high demand for the BVLOS inspection missions this waiver allows to conduct in one flight. Soaring Eagle has completed over 60 BVLOS missions across the country under SGI (special government interest) waivers, more than any other competitor. We currently have the capability to patrol up to 100 miles per day with each BVLOS sUAS in our fleet. This allows us to provide a cleaner and safer alternative to using fossil fuels. Asset owners can potentially save up to 30% when conducting BVLOS inspections compared to using manned aircraft—helicopters and airplanes—to do the same work.”

Soaring Eagle Technologies has previously obtained approval to inspect up to 61 linear miles, one of the longest distances approved by the FAA for such commercial infrastructure and transmission and distribution inspections. The remote pilot-in-command (RPIC) missions leverage Iris Automation’s advanced detect-and-avoid technology (DAA) system, Casia, the safety component that allows the long-range BVLOS flights. The FAA issues BVLOS waivers based on the proven safety standards and track record of the pilots and management.

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Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact