The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Dominion Energy, in partnership with Skydio, a Close Proximity, Low Altitude (CPLA) waiver authorizing Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flights enabling an array of inspections at more than 40 energy generation facilities across 7 states. The waiver is the result of collaboration between Dominion Energy and Skydio in the FAA BEYOND Program as part of the Virginia team, which is led by the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) with the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation, says the company press release.
The approval will enable Dominion to fly both safely and efficiently at dozens of facilities to maintain the supply of power to customers in seven states.
With layers of mitigation measures, including Skydio technology, the FAA waived the requirement for the human pilot to see the drone throughout the entire flight or for an additional crew member to constantly scan the airspace. This enables Dominion to conduct important timely inspections in an efficient manner, without compromising safety.
This is the third FAA waiver Skydio has written enabling BVLOS without visual observers or Detect And Avoid.
Key features of the waiver:
- Allows Dominion to conduct BVLOS operations over its energy generation facilities at or below 100 ft AGL and within 100ft laterally or vertically of structures.
- Does not require additional VOs or ground- or air-based surveillance capability because the operations take place in airspace where manned aircraft are unlikely to be encountered.
- Allows for operations at locations at least 3 miles from airports or helipads.
- Requires Dominion Energy to take appropriate measures to ensure that non-participants are wearing PPE and are notified that drone operations are taking place at the facility.
- Allows Dominion to scale the operation across its territory – to over 40 facilities in 7 states.
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