The commercial drone industry is beginning to see regulatory bodies across the globe grant advanced drone operation certificates and waivers. These are still limited steps, but these early trailblazers are demonstrating what is required to integrate into the national airspace and making the way a lot easier for those who follow.

Recently, MVT Geo-Solutions, in partnership with Iris Automation, was granted Canada’s first Beyond-Visual-Line-Of-Sight (BVLOS) Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) by Transport Canada, using just Iris Automation’s onboard Detect-And-Avoid (DAA). What is unique is that the approval was given based solely on that system's capabilities, which means it does not require ground-based observers or radar. This will be one of the first BVLOS flights that uses just onboard DAA for air risk mitigation.

The permission will allow the company to conduct flights in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence controlled airspace Remotely Piloted Aircraft System test range, which is located in Alma, Quebec.

The opportunities inherent in autonomous drone flights are varied and profitable. There are many useful applications of unmanned drone flights, including but not limited to mapping, road and community planning, surveilling, energy system infrastructure, inspection of construction sites and bridges, emergency response to remote areas, and package delivery.

Drones on BVLOS flights can capture more data with fewer flights than those without BVLOS can manage. BVLOS capability can help companies cut costs, improve data capture and smooth workflows. 

"Achieving the first BVLOS approval in Canada further validates our technology, alongside multiple permissions we already have received from regulators in the US and South Africa," says Alexander Harmsen, CEO of Iris Automation. "This tech is critical to safely integrate drones into the airspace along with manned aircraft."

UAS Center of Excellence director William de Keiser says the Center is looking forward to the opportunity to take advantage of Iris Automation’s DAA system in upcoming flights, which will be happening in the coming weeks. Data from these early flights will help to inform future BVLOS flights in Canada.