BVLOS training in South Africa
UAV Industries, a leading commercial drone pilot training and operations company, has announced the launch of its accredited Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Training Course, open to all drone pilots in possession of a valid Remote Pilot Licence (RPL). First to market in Africa, the B-VLOS training course is endorsed by both the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SA CAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The advent of BVLOS training in South Africa represents a big step up for both UAV Industries and the SA CAA in terms of international BVLOS operations and standards. There are currently no other African countries within the ICAO states offering a
BVLOS endorsement that complies with both ICAO and local regulations. This endorsement allows a correctly certified RPL pilot to now undertake BVLOS operations, ensuring a consistent standard that complies with accepted international aviation standards.
“UAV Industries has been working hand in hand with the SA CAA for the last two years to get BVLOS endorsement standards and course contents finalized”, says Ken Venn, Head of Training at UAV Industries.
“With no African BVLOS precedent to follow, this has not been an easy process, but we are delighted that together we have successfully developed a blueprint for global BVLOS training and operations for the future.”
Current Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) drone regulations limit operations to a radius of 500m of the drone operator and a maximum upward distance of 400ft. With a BVLOS rating, and operating commercially with a suitable operating business and equipment, a BVLOS pilot will now be able to undertake much longer missions, making the use of drone technology more effective. Furthermore, a single pilot can now cover a much wider area within a single mission.
Much of the BVLOS endorsement training focuses on the people skills and specialist training needed to operate such missions safely. The Remotely Piloted Aircrafts (RPAS) or drones used to undertake these missions will have special emphasis on air to ground communication technology and redundant options, as well as sense-and-avoid technology, so that other airspace users can be avoided if necessary. Spread over 10 days, the training course is open to RPAS pilots with a valid RPL and is currently being offered at the UAV Industries Flight School in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, commencing in Cape Town immediately.
“BVLOS is a game changer to the drone industry and brings about significant opportunity for expansion. It will enable us to do long-range missions and data gathering operations and be more cost effective, meaning companies who previously found VLOS limits uneconomical, can now revisit their aerial requirements and use BVLOS to improve efficiency.”
Applications that will immediately benefit from this are security and linear infrastructure inspections (railway lines and power lines). Security operations for wider areas can be undertaken with one team operating overnight, covering 100 square km’s of land by drone. In other operations, certain ground features being examined are long by nature, e.g. pipelines and electricity distribution cables. In such instances, a BVLOS operation will allow a single pilot to cover 60-100 km of these features in just one fight. Over time, this distance capability is expected to extend as technology improves.