The First Ever Commercial Drone Approved By FAA
In order to fly the UAVs over North Slope of Alaska, FAA asked AeroVironment and BP for permission on 10th June 2014.
On Sunday, AeroVironment held its first commercial flight. The Puma AE drone flew to carry out survey of BP roads, pipelines, and Prudhoe Bay equipment, which, according to FA, is the largest oil field.
The flight used sensors to perform maintenance activities. FAA believed that it would enhance safety and reliability in the sensitive North Slope environment in addition to saving time.
“These surveys on Alaska’s North Slope are another important step toward broader commercial use of unmanned aircraft,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who oversees the FAA. “The technology is quickly changing, and the opportunities are growing.”
Since the drone manufacturers needed quicker approval from FAA, the announcement appeared at the correct time. The use of conventional aircraft had become too dangerous for people in the commercial areas.
A New York lawyer dedicated to drones at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Brendan Schulman said the permission was granted for a drone that was already approved by the Defense Department for military purposes. Hence, the so the judgment does not give room for diversified commercial applications.
“The FAA is essentially using the military’s prior experience with this specific drone platform in place of the agency’s airworthiness certification requirements, so it is not an option for people hoping to use the newer drones being designed by high-tech startups that are not involved in military applications,” Schulman said. “It is a small step in the right direction but really only for companies who want to operate in very remote locations using military surplus equipment.”
FAA has granted UAV applications for academic or for local’s safety such as firefighter or police as yet.
In September 2013 in Prudhoe Bay, AeroVironment displayed the inspection and mapping services under an FAA authorization, certified from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
There were frequent drone flights without FAA authorization; an example is the making of The Wolf of Wall Street, a Hollywood movie. The FAA declared that it has the right to control the flights regulation and there was no commercial flight approved previously over land. The act may charge $10,000 fine against a single drone pilot dared before the National Transportation Safety Board
Considering that clash, the FAA officials declared that agriculture, movie makers and pipelines inspection would allowed for expedite approvals from now. They are establishing regulations for the drones to be used in coordination with commercial airlines. The deadline for this task is September 2015.
The policies would ensure the safety of aircraft, qualification of pilots, and the drone is capable of avoiding other objects that comes on their way. They would also guarantee safe landing in case of disconnection with their ground pilots.
Michael Huerta, an FAA administrator said that the reason behind permanently integrating small drones into Arctic airspace is this 2012 law of setting up drone policies timeline.
Huerta said, “This demonstration will help us accomplish the goal set for us by Congress.”
Last summer, FAA issued limited approval over the Arctic waters for another small UAV, Puma and Insitu’s Scan Eagle. The drone worked in collaboration with ConocoPhillips Oil Company. It got the flight permission over Arctic waters from Aug. 7 to Oct. 31, and appealed for the extension in certificate.
On Tuesday, FAA announced that AeroVironment demonstrated it could have a safe landing.
A 4-feet long aircraft, Puma AE is a small hand-launched drone having a wingspan of 9 feet. According to AeroVironment, its battery life is 3.5 hours and flies below 45 mph between the altitudes of 200-400 feet. It was also granted a contract of 5 years with BP.
It has a range of services including pipeline inspection, road mapping, and examining volume of gravel pits. Additionally, it monitors ice floes and wildlife and assist in search-and-rescue operations.
AeroVironment’s CEO, Tim Conver supposed that the drones would help BP “manage its extensive Prudhoe Bay field operations in a way that enhances safety, protects the environment, improves productivity, and accomplishes activities never before possible.”