Collecting aerial data across widespread areas can be dangerous, time-consuming, and expensive. Utility companies, for example, are responsible for surveying an average of 10,000 miles of power lines per year. Typically, this is done using manned helicopters, in areas featuring obstacles, at costs ranging from $200 and $1,000 per mile.

Drones have proven to be a safe and efficient alternative to traditional aerial data collection platforms. But, unlike helicopters and other manned aircraft, commercial drone missions flown in the United States are confined to a small radius around the deployment area. That’s because, without a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration, drone pilots may only fly drones within their own visual line of sight.

Flown Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), drones could help utility operators realize even deeper cost savings versus traditional aerial inspection methods. For example, high tension power lines must be inspected on a regular basis. Until now, this has typically been done using manned helicopters. Requirements and methodologies vary, but the cost range to do so is roughly $40-$700 per mile.

In most cases, utilities operating drones BVLOS would spend roughly $10-$25 per mile of inspection.

So, a company that must inspect 10,000 miles of power lines a year would save $1.7 million in the first year of operation—a savings of nearly $9 million dollars over the course of 5 years.

Paving the Path to BVLOS Through the Pathfinder Program

So, BVLOS operations are a critical component to scaling drone operations in the enterprise. And securing a waiver from the FAA for such operations is required. But doing so can be a laborious and costly process, one without the guarantee of a favorable outcome. In fact, of the over 1,200 BVLOS waiver applications submitted to the FAA by commercial drone operators, 99% have been denied.

In 2016, we were one of only a few companies to secure a BVLOS waiver allowing us to operate without the presence of visual observers throughout the area of interest. Why? Working in conjunction with the FAA, PrecisionHawk has spent the past three years conducting BVLOS safety research.

This fieldwork allowed us to develop a strong safety case and standards for BVLOS operations. These standards include a required portfolio of assistive technology, including:

  • sUAS Tracking
  • Real-time manned aircraft data feed
  • Detect and avoid system
  • A display

Now, we’re making our expertise available to other companies wanting to launch BVLOS operations and fully realize the benefits of drone operations.

Watch the Webinar

Watch our webinar about BVLOS drone operations and how they can be applied help scale to your aerial intelligence program.

We’re Here to Help

Contact PrecisionHawk to speak with an expert about adding BVLOS to your program.

If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of BVLOS drone operations—without undergoing the waiver process and initial investments—check out our BVLOS consulting services.