Beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights are something the drone industry has been discussing for a long while now. senseFly has just made progress in that regard by getting the first BVLOS license in Switzerland.
Granted by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA), senseFly became the first drone operator to obtain an anytime BVLOS License in Switzerland. With this license, senseFly can operate anywhere in the country, at any time, without the need to set-up a flight operation ‘Danger Area’ beforehand.
However, some restrictions are applied. Operations with senseFly’s eBee drones are restricted to a maximum height of 500 feet above ground (or 1,000 feet over urban areas). Also, visual observers need to be present, in communication with the drone’s operator, and to monitor a 2Km radius section of airspace for other aircrafts.
senseFly’s CEO Jean-Christophe Zufferey said: “At senseFly, we are committed to bringing solutions to market that facilitate the seamless and safe cohabitation of drones and manned aircraft. This is why we launched our Safer Together initiative with Air Navigation Pro. It is also why we will be collaborating closely with JARUS on our BVLOS findings and experiences, in order for that group to help the EASA develop the most valuable BVLOS Standard Scenario for future European use.”
Zufferey also added that this authorization opens doors for other Swiss eBee customers to apply for the same license, allowing them to grow their businesses by taking on larger, more complex projects. Outside Switzerland, various senseFly customers are already operating under similar conditions, such as ATEC-3D in England and France’s leading agricultural operator, AIRINOV. In Italy the eBee is already considered as a “harmless” drone, and users can fly it without any specific authorization, even above urban areas.
Last month, in another Nordic country, Denmark, the companies Scopito and Heliscope said they are closer to getting a permanent BVLOS License. In the United States, FAA approved BVLOS flights in a UAS Test Site in North Dakota.
2017 is shaping up to be a strong one on the BVLOS topic. Rules and regulations are starting to take shape, and the technology continues to improve at an incredible rate.