Thales reports that its partner uAvionix has received approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) unmanned aircraft flights on Vantis, North Dakota’s UAS network. The approved waiver means that the proposed Concept of Operations (ConOps) meets the safety threshold for the national airspace, which is essential for scaling commercial drone operations.
According to a company press release:
“The ConOps uses uAvionix avionics and command and control (C2) expertise deployed on North Dakota’s Vantis network to establish adequate risk mitigations for BVLOS flight. By utilizing the UAS infrastructure provided by the state of North Dakota via Vantis to meet safety requirements, the ConOps is easily adapted to other operators and use cases. This means that the Vantis model can be replicated elsewhere in North Dakota and in other states.
“The FAA identified the ability of the RPIC (Remote Pilot in Command) and Electronic Observer (EO) to continuously monitor C2 link availability, quality, and network status as key factors in its BVLOS approval. Mission critical data on the C2 link status as well as surveillance data is digitally presented to the remote pilot in command and an electronic observer through the Vantis Flight Crew HMI and to the Vantis Mission Network Operations Control.
“Vantis was designed to serve many drone operators across multiple sectors,” said Trevor Woods, Executive Director at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. “This first approval is an important milestone for Vantis, as a blueprint for widespread commercial BVLOS enablement.”
“This first-of-its-kind approval for our partners is a critical step that validates our state’s investment and years of work to bring UAS aircraft to commercial sectors in a safe and economic way,” said North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. “Other states are reaching out to us as a national leader in UAS.”
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(Main image: A drone prepares for takeoff in North Dakota. Photo courtesy of Vantis. Second image: The Vantis Mission & Network Operations Center (MNOC). Photo courtesy of Vantis)