FAA Waiver Awarded to Scale Shielded BVLOS Commercial Drone Operations

The new FAA waiver allows Percepto to operate drones BVLOS, close to structures without ground-based systems, providing scalability for the industry and cost-savings for customers By Caroline Rees / 11 May 2023
Percepto Air Max in utility facility_Photographer Wiebe de Jager
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Percepto has received an unprecedented waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signifying approval for the company to operate UAS Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) in shielded airspace, without humans onsite, and without ground-based or airborne Detect and Avoid (DAA) systems, for inspection and monitoring operations at infrastructure sites nationwide.

Under the waiver, low risk ‘shielded’ BVLOS operations are authorized 200 feet above and around assets located on critical infrastructure sites. At non-critical infrastructure sites, shielded BVLOS operations are permitted 50 feet higher than the tallest obstruction located within a half-mile of the site.

This achievement for Percepto will benefit the whole industry as it seeks to scale true BVLOS UAS operations for inspection and monitoring, and is a crucial step in fully integrating UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS).

Percepto proactively engaged with the FAA throughout the waiver application process and demonstrated to the FAA that the company can operate BVLOS close to structures safely without costly ground based or airborne DAA systems.

The operations authorized under this approval build upon recommendations made by the UAS BVLOS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) chartered by the FAA. The ARC correctly recognized that shielded airspace near structures and other obstacles where crewed aircraft do not typically operate could be leveraged as a safety mitigation to support safe, scalable, and economically viable UAS BVLOS operations. Percepto served as a member on the BVLOS ARC.

“Percepto is very grateful to the FAA staff for their engagement and consideration of our application for this important waiver,” said Neta Gliksman, Percepto VP of Policy and Government Affairs. “This waiver will help usher in a new era of scalable UAS operations that will benefit the critical infrastructure industry immediately, and in the future, in ways we haven’t even yet imagined.”

“This waiver’s implications for BVLOS UAS operations in the United States are massive,” said Lisa Ellman, Chair of the Global UAS Practice at Hogan Lovells and Outside Counsel to Percepto. “The FAA waiver provides scalability to businesses and encourages innovation across the industry, which will yield significant benefits for critical infrastructure facilities and the American people.”

“The use of Percepto’s UAS to perform critical infrastructure inspections significantly improves worker safety and efficiency of operations by allowing inspections to occur remotely from anywhere in the United States,“ said Danny Allen, Geospatial Intelligence Supervisor at ConocoPhillips.

“The ability to conduct remote BVLOS inspections without humans supervising the system and without the need for costly DAA assets will increase the value of the Percepto system while significantly reducing costs and barriers to BVLOS operations at our critical infrastructure and industrial commercial sites nationwide,” said Tim Shanfelt, PMP, Operations Enablement Director, Koch Ag and Energy Solutions.

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Posted by Caroline Rees Caroline co-founded Unmanned Systems Technology and has been at the forefront of the business ever since. With a Masters Degree in marketing Caroline has her finger on the pulse of all things unmanned and is committed to showcasing the very latest in unmanned technical innovation. Connect & Contact
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