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Towards last mile connectivity: BVLOS drone operations to take off soon

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India will soon conduct operations of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) test flights of drone systems to generate last-mile air delivery connectivity in the country. The development will prove to be a milestone towards the evolution of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ (UAS) eco-system in India.

The underlying reason behind creating experimental BVLOS flights in controlled conditions for at least two months is to formulate a ‘Proof of Concept’ for safe operations. If these flights are found to be successful and safe, it will lead to drafting a new policy framework for the long-range BVLOS drone operations.

Drones flying beyond Visual Line of Sight are controlled by data available through onboard instruments. The transmission of information takes place via a telemetry link that keeps the operator informed about the relevant parameters of the flight- position, altitude, speed and direction of flight. UAVs flying BVLOS can, however, also change flight parameters and control sensors to collect data.

The opportunities that these flights are expected to deliver are multiple. It will clear the path for UAS to deliver essential items like medicines and food items in a speedier manner across the country; especially in rural and remote, interior areas.

Other advantages of operating BVLOS UAS at low altitudes are-to provide cost-effective services such as surveying, photography and precision agriculture.

The BVLOS experiments will be conducted in various airspaces across the country as identified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Airports Authority of India.

Following this, the results of the long-range test flights will be assessed by the BVLOS Experiment Assessment & Monitoring committee.

According to a senior DGCA official, the operations of these experimental drones are expected to take off by January this year.

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