A leading Canadian drone services and manufacturing firm has received approval from Canadian regulator Transport Canada to commence with BVLOS flights in six locations across Canada. The future… is fast approaching.
Flying Beyond Visual Line of Sight, routinely, is arguably the Next Frontier for commercial, Enterprise and First Responder drone operations. No, we’re not just talking about the ability to deliver a pizza to your door. Rather, unlocking safe BVLOS flight opens the door to long-range infrastructure inspection, critical medical deliveries, and a host of other applications.
And now, Volatus Aerospace has been granted a Special Flight Operations Certificate (roughly the equivalent of an FAA waiver) to proceed with BVLOS testing at multiple locations across Canada.
In a news release, Volatus explained it plans to fly a number of different missions to demonstrate both the safety and efficiency of BVLOS flight. Whether it’s surveying, mapping missions, or other long-range data acquisition flights, Volatus says there’s no question that the range enabled by BVLOS flights will greatly improve the efficiency of drones. Here’s CEO Glen Lynch:
Volatus is committed to advancing BVLOS operations across Canada. We have developed an extensive training program for pilots and procedures for autonomous drone operations. Beginning this month, our team will begin regular flight training missions in all regions in Canada on an ongoing basis – partnering with organizations that want to lead the way into this new frontier.
Opening the skies
BVLOS flights are not to be taken lightly. Regulators are cautious in granting permission for these, because of the potential for conflict either with crewed aircraft or with persons or property on the ground. Whether it’s the FAA or Transport Canada, regulators want to be convinced the operator really knows what they’re doing, and that the proposed missions and flight paths are in areas (and airspace) that poses minimal risk.
But, as the Volatus release points out, it truly does open doors:
Drones are enhancing our everyday lives in countless ways by reducing human risk in hazardous situations, enhancing the collection of data in an environmentally and cost-effective manner; performing search & rescue activity; conducting security and surveillance operations, and providing highly accurate and timely actionable intelligence to manage our buildings, infrastructure, environment, and wildlife… In addition to the much-anticipated drone delivery service; future BVLOS operations will be an essential requirement for remotely piloted passenger and cargo aircraft. The paradigm shift that this represents requires the development of an entirely new infrastructure to support its commercial feasibility.
We haven’t seen the details of the SFOC granted to Volatus Aerospace. But such waivers are critical steps on the path toward routine BVLOS. There are a number of companies, consortiums and partnerships globally working on technologies for Unmanned Traffic Management – a way to safely minimize or correct and potential conflict with crewed aircraft. Eventually, it’s assumed, a robust standard (or multiple standards) will be agreed upon.
But for Volatus Aerospace, this is a very significant milestone.
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