The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a Part 107 waiver allowing drones to fly beyond visual line of sight (BLVOS) over a large ranch in Florida. The purpose of these drones is to collect precision agriculture data that would ultimately help farmers to develop more sustainable practices.
The approval for BVLOS missions has been given to Washington, DC-based drone company Aerial Vantage. Its operators can now fly as high as 1,000 feet, with visual observers ensuring cleared airspace exists beyond the view of the remote pilot.
Not only will Aerial Vantage collect imagery with drone flights, the company would also use its in-house data management platform to analyze the imagery and address multiple issues related to farming. This would include everything from gaining a better understanding of invasive plant species and pasture renovations to capturing livestock inventories, estimating timber volume, monitoring excavation activities, and counting wildlife.
Bill Keating, the director of flight operations at Aerial Vantage, says:
This waiver grants us a meaningful change in our ability to provide precision agriculture data on a larger scale to the industry.
Flight operations under this waiver began in early October 2022 and are authorized for up to two years. And while the current use case may focus on precision agriculture, once Aerial Vantage is able to demonstrate reliable and safe operations under the waiver, it may be able to conduct BVLOS missions in other areas such as emergency response and infrastructure inspections.
Aerial Vantage explains that the waiver has been obtained with assistance from the North Carolina Department of Transportation through its participation in the FAA’s BEYOND program.
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