In a major shift in its how it enables customers to operate, VTOL drone company Avy has reported that it has begun remote operations, eliminating the need for on-site operators for its drones. The company managed to overcome the technological and regulatory challenges associated with this transition and is now operating its drones remotely.
Avy's Aera model, can now be controlled from the Avy Operations Centre (AOC) through the Avy Base software. This development enables operators to plan the Aera's missions, control the drone, and manage the Docking Station, a critical operational component. The Aera's ability to execute precision landing on the Docking Station, along with real-time monitoring and communication through the Control Tower, have led to the elimination of the need for on-site operators.
In order to transition to remote operations, Avy had to clear several regulatory hurdles. To ensure safety during operations without a physical operator present, Avy implemented strict safety protocols and conducted comprehensive risk assessments. The company also tested the reliability of the AOC equipment and ensured its compliance with necessary standards. Moreover, Avy showed that it could integrate remote operations with previously approved procedures without sacrificing safety or introducing undue complexity.
After clearing these regulatory barriers, Avy received approval for its Specific Operational Risk Assessment (SORA) for Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) remote operations from the Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport (ILT). This allowed the company to commence actual remote operations with the aircraft stationed at a testing facility about 40 km away from the AOC. Avy has since operated commercial flights in the Port of Rotterdam, which is approximately 70 km away from the AOC.
The transition to remote operations offers several advantages. It reduces the potential for human error, thereby enhancing safety, and lowers costs by minimizing the need for human resources. Moreover, operators can work in a more secure indoor environment, away from outdoor elements.
Avy's Flight Operations Team is steadily increasing the number of remote flight hours, having already achieved over 10 hours of successful flight time. The company plans to continue expanding its remote operations, furthering the value delivered by its services.