New York Power Authority granted FAA waiver allowing BVLOS UAS operations

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) will be expanding its drone capabilities as part of its asset monitoring activities and inspection of its electric infrastructure around the state. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted NYPA license to fly unmanned aircraft systems beyond the visual line of sight of the pilot in command in a one-mile radius in any unrestricted, or Class G, airspace without prior approval. The approved waiver expands the Power Authority’s ability to use drones to monitor and inspect its transmission, generation and canal assets throughout the state.

The ability to view assets remotely is expected to improve safety for workers and allow for the expeditious inspection of NYPA assets. The Power Authority’s expanded ability to operate drones will primarily be used to inspect transmission assets and canal waterways. Drones significantly reduce the time required to inspect a transmission line, particularly after inclement weather or flooding.

The waiver was obtained with the help of Skydio, and authorises operations through 2028 specific to Skydio drones.

NYPA’s in-house drone programme is researching and testing new applications to implement drone use in day-to-day utility operations. More than 100 NYPA employees are now trained as drone pilots, up from 40 last year. To improve the safety and efficiency of its utility operations, NYPA is investing more than USD37 million in its drone program through 2028.

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Image: New York Power Authority

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