French CAA supports geo-caging solutions for Thales BVLOS unmanned flights

Thales has signed an agreement with gas operator Teréga to deploy a solution based on long-range UAVs to monitor Teréga’s gas pipeline network. The alliance will make it possible to use drones safely to monitor infrastructure beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), reducing the environmental impacts and operating costs of pipeline surveillance while delivering an enhanced level of service, says a Thales press release.

The memorandum of understanding between Teréga and Thales covers technical solutions to ensure compliance with French and European regulations on unmanned flights. The Thales solutions will enable 50% of Teréga’s over 5,000-kilometre gas pipeline network to be monitored by UAVs, ultimately limiting reliance on the manned aircraft and helicopters in use today, reducing environmental impacts and operating costs, and increasing monitoring frequency. Initial tests over unpopulated areas began on mid-November 2020.

To ensure regulatory compliance, Thales is developing a package of technologies that combines robotics, safety and security systems and certified avionics to guarantee the highest levels of safety for UAV operations:

  • trackers to identify, track and control UAVs safely and securely
  • geocaging solutions developed with the support of the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC) to guarantee that UAVs cannot fly outside their authorised airspace
  • anti-jamming solutions to protect the UAV’s onboard GPS sensors.

These technologies enable Thales to identify UAVs, secure their flight patterns within a predetermined airspace and maintain their airworthiness.

This collaboration with Teréga is a practical illustration of the huge potential of long-range UAVs when operational safety can be guaranteed. It is a major step forward in the development of the UAV industry, and we’re especially proud to be conducting this pioneering project in southwest France, where both our companies have strong roots.”Marc Duval-Destin, Vice-President Strategy, Product Policy and Innovation for Thales’s Flight Avionics business.

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