FAA approves AviSight waiver for BVLOS pipeline inspections with Iris Automation Casia X DAA solution

Critical infrastructure inspection company AviSight utilizing Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems(RPAS) technology, has secured a waiver to part 107.31 for the inspection of Shell Pipeline’s, Falcon Pipeline subsidiary in southwestern Pennsylvania. The waiver was achieved with Iris Automation’s on-board Casia X detect and avoid (DAA) solution, enabling Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations without the use of visual observers.

The pipeline is approximately 97 miles long and right-of way surveillance is required bi-weekly of the right-of-way. Traditionally, the longer right-of-way patrols have been accomplished with manned aircraft, introducing an associated fatality risk. To mitigate the aviation risk, SPLC awarded the aerial patrol contract to the RPAS operator Avisight in 2020. Additionally, these RPAS patrols also leverage the latest developments in digitalization. The recent advances in image analytics and change detection requires higher definition imagery generally not available from the typical patrol aircraft.

Prior to the issuance of the BVLOS waiver, the remote pilot in command was mandated by regulation to always maintain a visual line of sight of the aircraft. As the project and regulation developed, human visual observers (VOs) were required to assist in clearing the area around the RPAS in flight. The requirements of operating aircraft RPAS within visual line of sight required multiple setups, launches and relocations creating a detriment to the possible economic efficiencies.

This waiver allows AviSight to operate hydrogen fuel cell powered and hybrid RPAS remotely, beyond visual line of sight, on behalf of Shell. The entire Falcon Pipeline can now be inspected without repetitive and unnecessary launch and landings. This waiver further provides for greater scalability throughout the Shell ecosystem and an acceleration in actionable data delivery to Shell personnel, says the press release.

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