Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are largely flown in the line of sight of the pilot, Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) technology allows the UAV to fly beyond the visual range of the pilot and carry out its mission. This technology is widely used by the Military but was recently put to test for commercial usage by various companies over the world. These countries are also amending their policy on drones to accommodate this new technology and make the most of it. 

Unlike Visual Line Of Sight flying, the BVLOS requires a long-range Telemetry to be on the UAV which enables the transmission of data such as Attitude, Altitude, Speed, Position, as well as other parameters to control the aircraft, to the pilot. Similar to Visual Line Of Sight flights BVLOS operations can be carried out by manual flights or autonomous flights. These flights are not like the ones in visual line of sight and hence pilots have to be specifically trained for these flights.

It is mandatory for the pilot to have a theoretical and practical knowledge of the UAV and flying beyond the line of sight, he must also acquire a UAOP (Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit) from the specified Authority to conduct a flight. Topics such as Navigation, Meteorology, Aircraft performance, Radio Communication and Phraseology, Flight Planning and Flight Rules must be studied by the pilot due to the advanced capabilities of these kinds of UAVs.

With the help of BVLOS flying, UAVs can be used for a wide range of purposes such as mapping large areas, search and rescue missions, security and surveillance, delivering supplies, war situations to monitor the status and places where human life risk can be avoided. Other advantages of using BVLOS are quick response time, reduction in human error, reaching compact spaces or places not easily accessible to the ground crew and VLOS UAVs.

DGCA issued invitations in May 2019 for expression of interest for industrial partners to conduct experimental BVLOS operations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in India, leading to the submission of a Proof of Concept (POC).“The BVLOS experiments will be conducted in various airspaces across the country which have been identified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI),” as reported by Economic Times of India.

Currently in India, the potential use of drones for commercial purposes is very high, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday (6 January), adding that the Centre “is moving ahead on the BVLOS front”. And “CAR 2.0 will revolutionize and commercialize the BVLOS drone operations,”

The DGCA recently has approved Dunzo a hyper-local startup for delivery and Throttle Aerospace a Bengaluru based drone manufacturer for the BVLOS  testing. As of now, the DGCA hasn’t released any information regarding the progress of the BVLOS testing. The Telangana government has shown active interest and aims to be the first-ever “BVLOS compliant” state in India. The government has also formed a partnership with the medical drone delivery company Zipline.

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