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FAA Approval Allows BVLOS Drone Flights in North Dakota

Approval Heralds Dawn of Safe BVLOS Operations in N.D.

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted uAvionix approval to conduct Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) drone flights utilizing Vantis, North Dakota’s first-of-its-kind UAS system.

uAvionix, with support from the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, demonstrated to FAA personnel that it had established adequate risk mitigations to satisfy requisite safety standards for the specified BVLOS operation within the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS). The precedent-setting approval speaks to the FAA’s determination that the Vantis system meets applicable requirements of industry consensus standards or an alternative set of requirements ensuring safe integration of routine BVLOS Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operations in the NAS.

Northern Plains UAS Test Site director Trevor Woods stated: “Today's precedent-setting exemption approval marks a monumental milestone for Vantis, solidifying North Dakota's unwavering leadership in aviation and UAS innovation. It's not just a step forward; it's a significant advance in the evolution of UAS policy, redefining what's possible in the skies of tomorrow."

The described approval provides for repeatability—an exemption, which is technically rulemaking, that may be referenced for future approvals in a much faster manner. More importantly the approval exceeds the province of the original applicant, working for the whole industry. By dint of the exemption approval, the dawn of safe BVLOS operations, especially in North Dakota, where the infrastructure can be leveraged for repeatable operations, has been appreciably hastened. The same, or similar, infrastructure can be used in other geographies.

Vantis is North Dakota’s statewide UAS BVLOS network, the first of its kind in the U.S. Created in 2019, Vantis provides turnkey support to commercial and public UAS operators through infrastructure and regulatory approvals allowing applications and usability over a variety of industries. Vantis comprises ground-based aviation infrastructure, such as that used in traditional aviation, which significantly lowers the barrier of entry to BVLOS flights for multiple users.

The Northern Plains UAS Test Site, administering Vantis for the state of North Dakota, partnered with Thales U.S.A. to develop and implement the UAS system, which allows pilots to command and control BVLOS UAS and remain well clear of other aircraft.

Thales USA director of ATC and digital aviation solutions Frank Matus remarked: “We thank the Federal Aviation Administration for acknowledging that our approach to BVLOS in North Dakota maintains the same safety standards that the agency expects for all users within the national airspace. We continue to collaborate with the FAA as regulations evolve to ensure that Vantis meets the needs of all stakeholders.”

FMI: www.npuasts.com


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