In-Flight Data has begun a five-month, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) trial campaign for UAS flights in Canada. The planned flights are expected to total 1,500 km and span a “wide range of real-world” missions. The flights will utilize senseFly eBee and eBee Plus drones and will be used to collect geo-accurate data across a variety of UAS applications that can be used for legislation to support BVLOS operations.
In-Flight's trial will run into early November, and the company is targeting one BVLOS mission per week. The trial is being conducted in partnership with 20 other organizations, and the missions will comprise everything from pipeline surveys, crop mapping, landfill volume analysis, graveyard inventory assessments, and search and rescue applications. “The scope of this trial is, we believe, unique in Canada, if not the region,” said senseFly regulatory project manager Samuel Depraz. “I'm sure other regulators around the world will be following this project with interest.”
The flight safety data collected during the trial will be provided to Unmanned Systems Canada and Transport Canada (TC) to help define BVLOS risk models for different categories of unmanned aircraft. The senseFly drones used during the trial are designated “compliant” systems by TC, and fall within TC’s proposed "very small" (sub-1-kg) and “complex operations" (urban) commercial drone categories respectively. These UAS will be operated using senseFly’s commercial-grade eMotion ground station software, which includes integrated air traffic and geo-awareness data. The trial will use two drones on flights up to 10 km at 14 different test sites, including TC “in range” sites and rural “off range” locations. The flights will collect more than 120 different datasets and include thermal infrared and aerial imagery. Human observers will monitor flights and air traffic and cross reference their observations with operators' ground station software experiences.
In 2017, senseFly became the first drone operator to be granted “anytime” BVLOS authorization in Switzerland and its systems are currently approved for such use in France, Spain, Denmark and China. The company also participated in last year's Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) demonstration in Geneva (the Swiss U-space demonstration). The company's eBee Plus, eBee SQ and albris were designated "Compliant Unmanned Aerial Vehicles" by TC in August 2017, while its original eBee became Canada’s first compliant fixed-wing drone in 2015.