BVLOS Waiver: Here’s What You Need to Know
How to Use Your Drone Beyond Visual Line of Sight
Many technological advances within the drone industry are limited in real-world applications, due solely to unfavorable regulations.
For example, in the United States, commercial drone pilots must always maintain a visual line of sight with any drone they are operating. While technology allows for flight well beyond this limit, such operation would be illegal without changing regulations.
A classic example of the negative impact of this regulation can be found in oil pipeline inspections. Pipelines extend for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles across vast landscapes.
Drones can cover these distances much more efficiently than humans can. However, under current regulations, operators are required to move every two-to-three miles in order to keep the drone within sight. Thus, the benefit of using the drone is not maximized.
Thankfully, if you’re willing to do the work, you can get a waiver from the FAA, or other airspace authorization body, to fly Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS).
While getting that waiver is possible, you’re more likely to be approved with expert help. Here’s what to know about the BVLOS waiver.
What is a BVLOS Waiver?
Each country has its own rules and regulations regarding a BVLOS waiver.
As an example, we will use the United States. Once a commercial drone pilot has a Part 107 license from the FAA, that pilot can begin flying … within the license’s limits.
Every remote pilot in command must operate the drone in a manner that allows them to see the drone and its orientation at all times. With a Part 107.31 Visual Line of Sight Aircraft Operation waiver, though, you can fly without having a visual fix on the drone.
For example, let’s assume that you’re flying your drone around a large, cylindrical storage tank at an oil refinery inspecting for signs of corrosion. If you only have a Part 107 license, you will need to walk around the tank as your drone inspects it, always keeping an eye on its location.
With a Part 107.31, you can let the drone fly behind the tank — out of your line of sight — and complete the task more quickly.
How to Get the BVLOS Waiver
The FAA has issued very few Part 107.31 waivers.
In fact, as of October 2020, only 61 have been approved. By comparison, the FAA has issued well over 4,000 waivers for flying at night.
Your hopes of getting a waiver will depend on the strength of your BVLOS waiver application. Given the low number of approved applications to date, you’ll want to consult an expert.
While there’s no template for a successful BVLOS waiver published by the FAA, successful applications have had a few common elements which you should include to increase your chances of approval.
Let’s break those elements down a bit.
Standard Operating Procedures
Standard operating procedures highlight the professionalism and experience inherent within your organization.
These should be well organized, and cover everything from onboarding and training to all aspects of drone operations in which you or your pilots participate. To increase your chances of success, make sure that your procedures include the type of work you are looking to accomplish with a BVLOS waiver.
Next, you’ll want to include a detailed explanation of your command & control (C2) equipment.
C2 is an essential part of the application. The FAA will want to know what transmitters you are using to control the drone, in great detail.
You’ll also need to identify the maximum range of your transmitter ,and how you plan to maintain control of the drone at all times. To do that, make sure to include information about the equipment’s FCC ID number, both on the ground control station and on the drone.
Flight safety is perhaps the most critical section.
After all, you are requesting a waiver based on your assurance that operations will remain safe at all times. It’s best practice to have a well-developed mitigation plan for every reasonable situation which could arise.
That plan should include a synopsis on how you will detect and avoid collisions, or other dangers. This will be a significant focus of the approval process.
Ready to Apply?
Getting you BVLOS waiver is possible, but you’ve got some work ahead of you.
You’ll need to carefully construct a thorough application, which takes time, resources, and extensive knowledge of your use-case. Want to improve your chances? We’re here to help!
At Consortiq, our drone consultant team specializes in creating the right plan for your specific situation. Whether you need to fly at night, over people, or beyond your line of sight, we’ve helped companies around the world obtain specialized waivers in order to achieve their specific goals. We’re ready to help you get your drone safely into the sky.
And, we’ll train your team of pilots to ensure that you’re always within airspace & safety guidelines.
Would you rather just hire a team to go out and do the work for you? We do that, too!
Just complete the form below to get started with your risk-free consultation today!