FAA Permits UAS for BVLOS Pipeline Surveillance

The FAA has authorized AATI, working with CPL, to utilize the AiRanger Unmanned Aircraft System’s (UAS) detect and avoid (DAA) technology for pipeline surveillance in the San Joaquin Valley By William Mackenzie / 08 May 2024
FAA Permits UAS for BVLOS Pipeline Surveillance
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American Aerospace Technologies, Inc. (AATI) and Chevron Pipe Line Company (CPL), a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, are set to conduct unmanned aircraft surveillance in the San Joaquin Valley, California. 

In receipt of a first-of-its-kind waiver from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), AATI are authorized to utilize the AiRanger Unmanned Aircraft System’s (UAS) onboard detect and avoid (DAA) system to comply with aircraft right of way rules when operating beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) pipeline surveillance.

Designed by AATI, the AiRanger UAS is a fixed-wing, unmanned aircraft system capable of long-range operations beyond visual line of sight. The aircraft weighs 220 pounds with a wingspan of about 18 feet and can fly over 700 miles and up to 17 hours at up to 17,000 feet. 

The companies assert that the AiRanger is the first UAS to demonstrate compliance with industry consensus standards for the DAA system and reach this milestone.

AATI, a leader in intelligent airborne sensing and surveillance services for energy and other critical infrastructure, produced the AiRanger UAS specifically to support BVLOS aerial surveillance for Chevron’s pipeline and production facilities.

The DAA system’s capabilities were demonstrated during flight operations in Buttonwillow, California, in October 2023. Following the demonstration and FAA observed testing, the Agency issued the 91.113 Waiver and granted a 44807 Exemption (“Waiver and Exemption”). 

CPL and AATI were supported by End State Solutions, LLC, to build collaborative solutions with key regulatory agencies that enable safe operations for emerging technology and new uses for autonomous aerospace technology.

Stephanie Beveridge, president of CPL, commented; “CPL and AATI have been on a journey since 2019 to develop an aerial patrol solution with technology that advances safe, reliable, and cost-effective routine facility inspections and pipeline system surveillance. Through collaboration with the FAA, we are working to do just that in the San Joaquin Valley.”

David Yoel, CEO of AATI, stated; “For the first time, an unmanned aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds that flies above 400 feet and beyond visual line of sight has been approved for commercial operations in the U.S. This initial Waiver and Exemption spans over 4,000 square miles at up to 8,000 feet MSL, opening a new era in unmanned aviation in the National Airspace System.

“The AiRanger is a new type of platform due to its large scale and the range of operations it enables. Its intelligent sensors and real-time communications deliver actionable data at a scale that was previously unimaginable. With safety as our guiding principle, we look forward to expanding AiRanger operations across the country.”

Roy Martinez, project manager for the UAS initiative and digital advisor for operations in CPL, added; “CPL operates approximately 3,000 miles of regulated pipelines nationwide. The AiRanger UAS beyond visual line of sight operations will help transform routine oil and gas pipeline surveillance and inspections required by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) using automated intelligence solutions. 

“CPL’s coordinated efforts with the FAA and AATI to deploy this program is just one example of how Chevron continues to work with federal agencies to explore and implement emerging technologies to further Chevron’s purpose of developing the affordable, reliable, ever-cleaner energy that enables human progress.”

Posted by William Mackenzie Connect & Contact