uAvionix has confirmed that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted the company approval to operate an Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) in North Dakota through the use of the Vantis Command and Control (C2) and Detect and Avoid (DAA) network. This approval comes in the form of exemption from, among others, regulations 14 CFR 91.113(b) and 14 CFR 61.3(a)(1). The exemption grants the use of the Vantis network to satisfy right-of-way regulations and the requirement for the operator to hold a pilot’s license under Part 61.
The FAA recently asked for public comment on four requests for exemptions by different UAS operators who represent a broad set of use cases with the intent that these exemptions could be rulemaking – i.e., precedent-setting, in order to help move the industry forward in the absence of formal BVLOS rules.
The uAvionix exemption is different to the use cases in the other submissions in that it is a request for infrastructure approval. The network infrastructure, which provides C2 and DAA capability, was put together by the Vantis team consisting of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, Thales, uAvionix, and others. uAvionix serves as the UAS manufacturer and operator, and by contributing several key C2 and DAA technologies to the project. The purpose of Vantis is to develop and implement a commercially operational UAS BVLOS flight system throughout North Dakota and other states that can enable the UAS industry to grow.
This exemption milestone is particularly important, as while normal waivers are essentially a one-off, approval under an exemption provides for repeatability. An exemption (which is technically rulemaking) can be referenced for future approvals in a much faster manner. More importantly, it doesn’t just apply to the original applicant, but works for the whole industry. With this exemption approval, the way is clearer for 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.
uAvionix would like to thank all those involved with Vantis, as well as the FAA for their forward-lean on achieving this milestone and by recognizing that third-party providers can provide C2 and DAA services to independent operators as a way to scale the industry safely and effectively.