Drone services and delivery company Spright says it has obtained what it calls a “first of a kind” waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for specific beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) inspection missions.
A division of medical helicopter transport company Air Methods, Spright said its FAA waiver provides open-ended authorization to operate BVLOS drone inspection missions across the US. Specifically, the non-geospecific Certificate of Waiver allows the company to fly its UAVs up to four nautical miles to perform critical utility infrastructure surveys. It described the approval as the first of its kind to be accorded by the US regulator.
The FAA decision will afford Spright a great deal more flexibility in operating BVLOS drone flights for clients covered by the waiver. It is also expected to decrease the time between a customer’s request for inspection work and Spright being able to plan and execute it.
Read: Percepto drones earn ‘unprecedented’ FAA high altitude BVLOS approval
It also comes amid a recent flurry of FAA waivers that similarly broke new ground in BVLOS operations.
“Spright is proud to have earned the FAA’s first non-geospecific BVLOS waiver for utility inspection, and we believe it is testament to our aviation-minded culture that puts safety at the center of everything we do,” said Joe Resnik, president of Spright. “Moving forward, Spright customers will have access to the most advanced and versatile inspection solutions in the industry, resulting in a more effective maintenance model that leads to measurable time and cost efficiencies.”
Increased liberty in operating BVLOS flights for inspections, surveys, mapping, deliveries, and other drone services is considered critical to the sector scaling activities to their full potential. For that reason, every new authorization is observed with interest – especially those that reduce restrictions to unprecedented levels.
The importance of unleashing BVLOS UAV capabilities is viewed as so essential to future growth of aerial services that a bill was introduced to Congress earlier this month seeking to impose new structures and methods on the FAA for reviewing those requests – and speeding up the approval process.
Read more: New Senate bill aims to boost FAA BVLOS drone flight approvals
As Resnik indicated, for now those BVLOS procedures remain long, arduous, and frequently frustrating – another reason why he calls the FAA’s groundbreaking waiver a major milestone for Spright.
“I am proud of our commitment and leadership in seeing this process through to a successful end,” said Resnik. “Being the first UAS operator in the utility space to receive this type of waiver really speaks to the collective operational experience of the team and overall maturity of Spright operations.”