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FAA Grants New York Power Authority Waiver on Drones Beyond Visual Line of Sight

FAA Grants New York Power Authority Outasight Waiver for Drones

The FAA has recently granted the New York Power Authority (NYPA) a significant waiver that permits the operation of unmanned aircraft systems beyond the pilot's visual line of sight.

This landmark approval, announced on April 11, 2024, allows NYPA to operate drones within a one-mile radius in unrestricted Class G airspace without prior approval, enhancing their ability to inspect and monitor statewide infrastructure.

This development is part of NYPA's broader strategic initiative, VISION2030, aimed at expanding the use of technology in energy management and to increase the safety and efficiency of its operations. NYPA President and CEO, Justin Driscoll, highlighted the pivotal role of drones in achieving these objectives. The drones are equipped to perform rapid and safe inspections of essential assets critical to the delivery of clean power across New York state.

The waiver is expected to significantly advance NYPA's operational capabilities by allowing for remote inspections of transmission lines, generation facilities, and canal systems. These drones will largely assist in routine surveillance and in assessing the conditions of these structures, particularly useful following adverse weather events which may affect the state's power infrastructure.

Support for this initiative has been bolstered by collaboration with Skydio, a U.S. drone and software manufacturer, which supplied the Skydio X10 drones used by NYPA. These drones are renowned for their advanced autonomy and obstacle avoidance technology, enabling them to operate without the need for an expert pilot on-site.

The FAA's waiver also facilitates NYPA in maintaining its leadership within the energy sector, showcasing innovative applications of drone technology in daily utility operations. The integration of these advanced systems underscores NYPA's commitment to enhancing the reliability and performance of its infrastructure, thus ensuring uninterrupted clean energy delivery to New York's grid.

This initiative not only represents a technological leap in asset management but also reflects a growing trend in the utility industry where drones are becoming crucial for operational efficiency and safety enhancements. With more than 100 trained drone pilots, NYPA is setting a precedent for the future of utility management through the use of technology.

FMI: faa.gov

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