BVLOS or “Beyond Visual Line of Sight” is a term that is becoming increasingly common in the world of drones. It refers to the ability of a drone to operate beyond the pilot’s line of sight, which is a significant step forward for the industry.
Firstly, let’s understand the traditional approach to drone operations. Most commercial drone operators have to operate their drones within visual line of sight parameters. This is due to regulatory requirements and operational constraints, which mandate that a drone must remain within the pilot’s line of sight at all times. This has been a significant limitation for the industry, as it prevents drones from being used for more complex operations like drone delivery, long-range inspections, and other such use cases.
The emergence of Beyond Visual Line Of Sight operations is transforming the drone industry by introducing new possibilities for drone operations. BVLOS operations allow drones to fly beyond the pilot’s line of sight, which enables more complex operations and capabilities. BVLOS operations are already facilitating thousands of new applications for UAV technology across various industries, paving the way for “air mobility” or the transport of people and products.
The primary advantage of BVLOS operations is that they enable service providers to introduce more complex operations and capabilities, such as drone delivery or long-range inspections. BVLOS operations also allow drones to operate entirely without the need for a pilot for takeoff and landing. This means that a drone can be dispatched to perform an operation in a remote location, and the operator can remotely control the drone from a different location. BVLOS is already transforming the industry by facilitating a new range of applications for UAV technology across various industries.
However, for BVLOS operations to become commonplace within the industry, there are several challenges that need to be addressed. One of the primary challenges is to ensure that the drones themselves are airworthy and reliable. This requires extensive research and development to develop drones that can operate safely and efficiently beyond the pilot’s line of sight.
Another significant challenge is to meet regulatory requirements and operational constraints. The primary concern for manufacturers, operators, and regulators of BVLOS systems is safety. Therefore, meeting dynamic regulatory requirements for “airworthiness” to ensure risk is mitigated is vital.
In terms of the best drones for BVLOS operations, VTOL fixed-wing drones are proving to be a common drone platform for BVLOS operations, especially for complex long-range BVLOS operations. Multi-rotors are also used for BVLOS operations, but they are less efficient and rely on downward thrust to stay aloft. However, the design of multi-rotors is improving, as are battery and power source efficiency.
BVLOS is a revolutionary concept for the drone industry. It allows the drone industry to break free of the restrictions historically holding it back, where drones had to be operated within visual line of sight parameters. BVLOS is already transforming the industry by facilitating a new range of applications for UAV technology across various industries. However, to realise its full potential, the industry needs to address several challenges, including the development of airworthy and reliable drones, and meeting regulatory requirements which are already being considered and enhanced by such things as the introduction of the recently revised CASA BVLOS exam.
If you’re considering implementing BVLOS operations in your organisation, don’t hesitate to contact Hover UAV for assistance. With a track record of achieving first-of-its-kind approvals for BVLOS applications, Hover UAV can provide the necessary expertise to help you navigate the process.
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