FAA waiver permits BVLOS services under North Dakota’s UAS Integration Pilot Program

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) test flights in urban environments and over people in North Dakota’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP). The waiver is the latest secured by Xcel Energy who can now conduct UAS flights without a chase plane or visual observer within 100 feet above and 20 feet laterally of its transmission lines across eight states, including in North Dakota. The waiver also incorporates night flight authorisation for the Northern Plains UAS IPP operations.

Xcel Energy research features test flights and analyses, including staging disaster scenes that typically cause power outages, to test the best way to survey and assess damage in order to restore service. The research involves using two types of UAS – a large high altitude drone and a low-altitude drone. Both devices are equipped with cameras, advanced data modeling, and analysis technologies. The research partnership includes Xcel Energy, the University of North Dakota, Elbit Systems of America, General Electric, Northern Plains UAS Test site, and others.

(Image: Northern Plain UAS test site, Xcel Energy)

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