The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted approval for two more companies to operate drones beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). UPS Flight Forward has been authorized to use its Matternet M2 for small package delivery, while uAvionix can utilize the Vantis Network to test its detect and avoid technology with the Rapace drone.
This comes on the heels of the FAA's August 24 authorization for Phoenix Air Unmanned to operate its SwissDrones SVO 50 V2 for various purposes, including aerial work, photography, surveying, and patrolling powerlines and pipelines.
These recent approvals were issued after the FAA solicited public feedback on four BVLOS operation requests. The agency is currently assessing one more request, and the data gathered from these approved operations will play a vital role in informing the FAA's policy-making and rule-setting actions.
Central to the FAA's ongoing initiatives is the establishment of standardized regulations to facilitate BVLOS operations on a large scale in an economical manner. To this end, the FAA initiated the Beyond Visual Line of Sight Aviation Rulemaking Committee on June 9, 2021, to offer safety recommendations. The agency is in the process of evaluating the committee's final report.
The broader objective of the FAA is to seamlessly integrate drones into the National Airspace System rather than reserving a distinct airspace exclusively for drone operations. This strategy aligns with directives from both the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 and the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. As per the directives of the 2016 Act, the FAA, in collaboration with NASA, remains committed to devising a comprehensive plan for Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) to bolster these integration efforts.