First drone beyond line of sight flight successful

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Skyfront‘s Perimeter 4 long-range hybrid gas-electric drone successfully performed the first civilian beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight without visual observers under the FAA’s Part 107 rules.

This flight is a significant step toward the safe integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace, according to company and FAA officials.

In the video below, FAA Program Manager Robert Huber and Skyfront CEO Troy Mestler discuss details of flight:

During the round-trip flight, the drone flew over mountainous, rugged terrain along a four mile stretch of the Trans-Alaska pipeline.

It maintained a constant above-ground altitude of 400′ with multiple ascents and descents of 1,000′ on 45° slopes, according to company officials. Radio-based telemetry, command and control of the vehicle was uninterrupted during the flight, officials add.

FAA representatives observed all aspects of the mission, including planning, system setup, and ground station operation.

The Perimeter “did the flight safely, effectively and efficiently. It accomplished a beyond-visual-line-of-sight mission, and it was approved by the FAA,” said Huber, program manager for the Integration Pilot Program (IPP) of the FAA.

“Today’s flight was a milestone in the unmanned community. We at Skyfront are excited to be pushing the limits of unmanned aerial vehicles here in the United States,” said Troy Mestler, CEO of Skyfront.

The Perimeter drone was integrated with Iris Automation’s Casia collision avoidance system and was observed by Echodyne’s ground-based detect and avoid systems.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration purchased the drone and organized the flight over the pipeline, with the approval of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

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View Comments (2)

  • The FAA just seems to be doing the EXACT opposite of it's for aviation. This is as irresponsible as it gets.

    • How is operation unsafe? It was flown below 400 AGL along a pipe line in a remote location.

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