Drone flights beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight (BVLOS) tends to make regulators a little nervous — nervous enough to ban most of those types of drone flights.
But regulators worldwide are starting to loosen up, and that applies to Brazil, too.
Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) in April approved fixed-wing dronemaker senseFly to conduct certain BVLOS flights to be carried out, a first for the country. SenseFly is partnering with drone engineering and consulting specialists AL Drones and geotechnology company Santiago & Cintra to fly their senseFly eBee Classic, eBee Classic RTK, eBee Plus and eBee SQ drones.
Current Brazilian drone laws restrict drones to remaining within a 500 m radius of the operator or observer. But now, senseFly is now the first and only company in the country permitted to fly 400 ft in height with a 5 km radius from a licensed pilot or observer.
A number of other countries have recently eased up on restrictions around how far drones can fly away from their humans.
In 2017, senseFly became the first drone operator to be granted ‘anytime’ BVLOS authorization in Switzerland, and its systems are also approved for BVLOS use in France, Spain and Denmark.
Zipline, which operates drones intended to make medical-related deliveries, is flying drones beyond visual line of sight primarily in African countries including Rwanda, Tanzania and Ghana.
And huge progress is being made in the U.S., too, home to more than two dozen approved BVLOS flights. Earlier in April, Bay Area-based drone delivery company Matternet received permission to make drone deliveries on the WakeMed hospital campus in Raleigh, NC, while Flirtey recently secured approval to fly their drones to deliver defibrillators beyond visual line of site at the FAA test site in Reno, Nevada. Insurer State Farm was recently approved to fly both BVLOS and over people to conduct damage assessments for insurance adjustments. Over in upstate New York, the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance is currently building the nation’s first and only 50-mile drone corridor for beyond visual line-of-sight UAS testing.
And the FAA is even convinced that big drones can fly BVLOS, too. In October 2018, the FAA issued approval to Boston-based Avitas Systems to fly drones that weigh more than 55 pounds BVLOS to conduct industrial inspections over Shell Oil Company property in Loving County, Texas.
But Canada can claim the rights to hosting the first urban, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone project done in a major city in North America. A senseFly eBee Plus fixed-wing drone flew more than 250 miles in total to map a cemetery in Calgary.