FAA grants MassDOT a wide-ranging waiver to operate BVLOS rail inspection flights state-wide

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued MassDOT Aeronautics a wide-ranging waiver, granting permission to fly uncrewed aircraft over Massachusetts’ entire rail network, Beyond Visual Line of Sight  (BVLOS. This enables MassDOT’s drone operations program to efficiently collect data on over 1,000 miles of rail track when monitoring for impediments such as vegetation encroachment, flooding, equipment damage, or storm damage, increasing rail safety, says the company.

MassDOT drone teams will be able to capture more data more quickly across the state, such as the infrared depiction above of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Orange Line’s Wellington Station in Medford, near Everett. By facilitating the timely location and repair of catenary defects and rail assets, infrared images collected by the drone team can help the MBTA minimize reductions in service due to equipment failures.

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