Mistras Group
FAA’s BEYOND Drone Initiative Welcomes New Partners
A Presidential Memorandum established the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP) on October 25, 2017. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) instituted it as a three-year program to enable state, local, and tribal governments, in collaboration with industry to advance more complex UAS operations in the National Airspace System (NAS). Under the IPP, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) executed Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with 10 state, local, and tribal governments to conduct advanced UAS operations to advance safe and secure integration. One of those participants, the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Florida, withdrew from the program in early 2019.

The nine IPP lead participants accomplished many achievements under the IPP, and the FAA shared the relevant data and lessons learned with the appropriate policymakers and regulatory teams within the FAA and DOT to inform regulations, policy, and guidance. The FAA concluded the IPP on October 25, 2020 as mandated by statute, and decided to continue the partnerships and progress it made under the IPP to continue to address remaining challenges.

The FAA is tackling the remaining challenges of UAS integration through a new program called BEYOND. These challenge areas are:

Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations that are repeatable, scalable and economically viable with specific emphasis on infrastructure inspection, public operations and small package delivery.

Leveraging industry operations to better analyze and quantify the societal and economic benefits of UAS operations.

Focusing on community engagement efforts to collect, analyze and address community concerns.

The BEYOND program started on October 26, 2020 to continue the partnerships with eight of the nine IPP participants.

The program will focus on operating under established rules rather than waivers, collecting data to develop performance-based standards, collecting and addressing community feedback and understanding the societal and community benefits, and to streamline the approval processes for UAS integration.

BEYOND partners:

Airspace Link, an FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier of Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), focused on meeting the needs of state and local governments and ensuring UAS pilots can make informed decisions;

Equinor, an energy company developing oil, gas, wind, and solar energy in more than 30 countries, including a strong presence in North Dakota;

iSight Drone Services, the first private UAS company in North Dakota, providing professional UAS operations, setting the bar on scalable and mature operations management;

Skydio, a leading US manufacturer of autonomous, small UAS that use artificial intelligence to see and understand their surroundings and intelligently navigate complex environments for industrial inspections and public safety;

SkySkopes, a professional drone service provider based in North Dakota that is focused on bringing innovative solutions to the energy sector;

Volansi, a commercial manufacturer and operator of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) autonomous flight systems that are focused on airworthiness and certification;

Workhorse, an autonomous solutions provider supporting airworthiness, certification, and operations support, primarily for package delivery;

Xcel Energy, a leading organization, using autonomous technologies in support of energy technologies and energy delivery.
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