The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has granted the first “Beyond-visual-line-of-sight” (BVLOS) flight approval for a drone.
United Drone Holdings (UDH) has been granted BVLOS flight approval to conduct long-range commercial flights with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
The SACAA’s approval for the flight was granted based on the utilisation of the Iris Automation Casia onboard detect-and-avoid system. The system was demonstrated during live flight operations that included the Casia system making automated manoeuvres to avoid collisions with manned aircraft. The approval from the SACAA requires no visual observers or ground-based radars, enabling BVLOS flights with only two crew members.
Iris Automation unlocks commercial drone operations by enabling Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to fly BVLOS. The Iris Automation Casia system is a plug-and-play turnkey solution that detects, tracks and classifies other aircraft and makes intelligent decisions about the threat they may pose to the drone. It then triggers automated manoeuvres to avoid collisions, and alerts the pilot on the ground in command of the mission. The industry-leading collision avoidance system helps drones see and react to the world in the same way pilots do.
“I’m proud to see that our Casia system has been validated once again by gaining BVLOS approval from the regulator in South Africa, which comes in addition to the multiple permissions our technology has already received in the United States,” said Iris Automation CEO Alexander Harmsen. “Iris Automation currently has customers operating in a dozen countries around the world and we continue to work closely with global regulators both directly and through our customers.”
UDH utilizes drones to conduct long-range infrastructure inspection, mapping and surveillance for customers throughout South Africa. The company also provides certified training, SACAA-approved operations, equipment supply and hosts one of Africa’s largest drone conferences.
“Iris Automation’s Casia detect-and-avoid system is a game-changer for this industry and enables countless commercial opportunities,” said United Drone Holdings CEO Sean Reitz. “I set out to find a solution that regulators trusted and that was also light and practical enough for everyday use. Being able to comply with the strict regulations put in place by the South African Civil Aviation Authority and unlocking BVLOS has allowed us to conduct daily missions.”