THE FAA & BEYOND VISUAL LINE OF SIGHT (BVLOS)
Paladin gets BVLOS waivers on behalf of each department we work with, removing the need for RPIC’s on rooftops.
Paladin is not a governing authority for aviation. Any subjective language is based on experience and should not be read as a rule or regulation. For exact rules, regulations, and information, please contact your local FAA representative and/or visit https://www.faa.gov.
Drone as First Responders (DFR)
Drones as First Responders (DFR) utilize drones to get eyes on an emergency before first responders arrive, allowing them to gain vital situational awareness. A live video feed helps them to formulate a plan before arriving, increasing efficiency and yielding a safer result for both them and the communities they serve.
The Traditional Model
The traditional model of drones in public safety relies on a trained pilot and a drone on the scene in an emergency. Once there, the drone is placed on the ground and the pilot flies it with the same goal in mind as DFR – to gain situational awareness for safer and more efficient emergency response.
DFR improves on this model by eliminating the link between the drone’s response time and the trained pilot’s response time. With autonomous deployment, drones can beat first responders to the scene, making it an effective tool for both deescalation and resource allocation.
BLOVS: Crucial to DFR
To have an effective, long-term DFR program, flying beyond visual line of sight is crucial. It allows the pilot in command (PIC) to fly the drone without maintaining eye contact, opening up numerous operational and logistical advantages, like operating a fleet of drones from one centrally located command center.
This Slide Deck presented by Eileen Lockhart, Jennifer Player, Joey Neptune, Captain Kenneth Voiret, and more at AUVSI 2019 gives a concise summary of BVLOS. See news & media surrounding Paladin and BVLOS.
What is Flying Beyond Visual Line of Sight?
When an operator cannot see the aircraft, it is beyond their line of sight. In the context of DFR, securing a BVLOS waiver allows for the teleoperator to be stationed anywhere.
If an emergency is 50 miles away from a Sheriff departments HQ a remote pilot-in-command is able to deploy and control a drone in that area providing a much faster response time than, for example, dispatching a trained pilot to the scene.. BVLOS allows public safety to get eyes on a situation in a safe, reliable, and timely manner.
Why is BVLOS Important?
Speaking from Paladin’s experience in getting BVLOS waivers, the entire process for obtaining one is focused around one common theme – safety. Specifically, the FAA has looked at how safe the technology is and whether the department has been educated and can safely operate BVLOS missions in accordance with the rules and regulations set forth by the FAA. Paladin has submitted multiple CONOPS to get BVLOS waivers for partner departments and has outlined the following in each one.
Looking at the powerpoint used at AUVSI 2019 to explain BVLOS, it is clear that the FAA wants to know:
- What is the airspace surrounding the area of operations like? What class is it
- What kind of tech is being used? What are its built in fail-safes?
- What risks does the department foresee in using this tech and how is it mitigating them?
- Should something go wrong what is the procedure for handling it?
Through all of the information the FAA wants to collect and all the questions they ask, it is very clear that they want to ensure that:
- The technology works and can safely operate within the guidelines of BVLOS one of which is limiting flight to a 3-mile radius from its home base
- The department knows how to operate to the letter for safe missions including DAA and/or SAA with VO’s.
- The department has thought of all the risks involved and has a way to mitigate them. This last point is particularly important as it can be a simple yet dangerous error leaving out possible conflict points such as a hospital with a heliport.
How Does Paladin’s System Ensure Safe BVLOS Missions?
Paladin’s technology is designed to operate safely with fail-safes in place to mitigate the risks of flying BVLOS. For example, if the drone loses cellular connection for more than a few seconds, it automatically returns home. The drone’s LTE connection allows it to travel up to the FAA’s 3-mile radius limit, minimizing the risk of losing connection compared to radio-based drones when flying this far.
While our system does not have detect and avoid (DAA) systems, we use a cost-effective visual observer (VO) solution that remains in constant communication with the pilot-in-command (PIC) to report any hazards and deconflict the airspace. By using Paladin’s LTE-solutions and our network of VOs, we have received multiple BVLOS waivers, making BVLOS and DFR much more cost-effective. As regulations evolve, we will continue to prioritize community safety.
Watch a Demo
See Paladin in Action
Watch a recent flight demo of our EXT Module with Watchtower DFR. See how departments and organizations are able to control the drone’s flight and feed from hundreds of miles away, all through a stable LTE connection.