Last week, at the FAA UAS Symposium, the FAA unveiled the new Public Safety Tactical Beyond Visual Line of Sight (TBVLOS) waiver for first responders. The Tactical BVLOS waiver provides public safety professionals with permission to fly beyond visual line of sight when it counts most – in cases of extreme emergency.
“In a time of extreme emergencies to safeguard human life, first responders require the capability to operate their unmanned aircraft (UAS) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) to assess the operational environment such as a fire scene at a large structural fire, to conduct an aerial search on a large roof area for a burglary in progress, or to fly over a heavily forested area to look for a missing person…,” says FAA guidance. “To support public UAS operators acting in an active first responder capacity, the FAA may approve “First Responder Tactical Beyond Visual Line of Sight” (TBVLOS) waivers to 14 CFR 91.113(b).”
Flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) can be absolutely critical to the safety of first response team. While BVLOS flight sometimes implies distance, in other situations it may mean flying on the other side of a tall building or around a corner in an urban environment.
In fact, as Chief Charles Werner, Director of DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Alliance explains, there are many situation where remaining in visual line of sight for the remote pilot or visual observer places them in danger: in active shooter or hostage situations; hazardous material incidents which may include chemical, biological, or explosive environments; SWAT operations; search and rescue in hazardous terrain; bomb threats; fires; and more.
This Tactical BVLOS waiver was the culmination of over nine months of work largely spearheaded by a group of committed public safety drone professionals. Charles Werner and DRONERESPONDERS joined partners including York County Fire and Life Safety, Chula Visa Police, and the San Diego [UAS Integration Pilot Program] IPP to work with the FAA on establishing the framework for the waiver. (Additional guidance on applying for the TBVLOS waiver can by found on the DRONERESPONDERS website.)
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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