FAA Issues Waivers for Beyond Line-of-Sight UAV Operations Written 6 July 2022


A drone operator retrieves a drone after photographing over Hart Island in New York, 29 April 2018. | Seth Wenig; Associated Press-©

The AP reports that although for years it has been legal to fly civilian UAVs only within the pilot’s line of sight, some UAV operators “have recently gotten permission to soar out of their pilots’ sight” amid a broader relaxation of UAV regulations in the US elsewhere. The expectation “of small drones with little human oversight delivering packages, assessing home insurance claims or buzzing around on nighttime security patrols” has driven “the FAA’s work this year to craft new safety guidelines meant to further integrate drones into the national airspace.” Although the FAA “said it is still reviewing how it will roll out routine operations enabling some drones to fly beyond visual line of sight,” the agency nevertheless “has signaled that the permissions will be reserved for commercial applications, not hobbyists.” In early July, the FAA approved 230 waivers allowing permission to fly UAVs “beyond visual line of sight.” One waiver went to “Dominion Energy for inspecting its network of power plants and transmission lines.” Dominion Energy Chief Security Officer Adam Lee said, “This is the first step of what everybody’s expecting with drones.” The article adds, “Previously, ‘you would have to erect scaffolding or have people go in with a bucket truck,’ said Nate Robie, who directs the drone program at Dominion [Energy]. ‘Now you can go in on a 20-minute flight.’”
Full Story (Associated Press)