Airbus Aerial has received a waiver from the FAA to conduct urban unmanned aircraft systems (UAS/drone) flight operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and without requiring a visual observer in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The flights will be conducted under the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), an FAA-sponsored public-private partnership whose stated goal is to “help define the regulatory framework for drone operations and their integration into the national airspace system.”
According to Airbus, the North Dakota team is working specifically on safe ways to use UAS technology while conducting flights over people, night flights and BVLOS operations without the need for visual observers. “Waivers to this magnitude are not achieved unless you have an innovative team of partners that are extremely dedicated, working for the advancement of UAS integration initiatives while keeping safety at the forefront,” said North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) IPP UAS program administrator Russ Buchholz.
Airbus Aerial is a division of Airbus that focuses on aerial data collection, analysis and distribution. In North Dakota, the company will be working with Xcel Energy, using a fixed-wing drone to fly BVLOS over Xcel’s residential distribution network. Airbus says the operations are “critical in equipping the utility industry to appropriately assess and utilize UAS.”