ZURICH - SwissDrones, a manufacturer and operator of long-range uncrewed helicopter systems for inspection, surveillance, and public safety applications in Zurich, has announced that its SDO 50 V2 multi-mission, single-turbine uncrewed helicopter system has been granted special FAA authorization. This authorization allows aerial service provider Phoenix Air Unmanned (PAU) in Cartersville, Gerogia, to operate the SDO 50 V2 beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) across the entire United States. This achievement marks what SwissDrones says is the first-of-its-kind authorization within the nation. The company says the authorization will allow PAU to broaden its capabilities in inspection, patrol, and survey missions over extensive distances.
SwissDrones and PAU collaborated over three years to build safe BVLOS operations (CONOPS) and conducted numerous flight trials in the United States with the SDO 50 V2. All regulatory and safety requirements were met in cooperation with the FAA to enable extended-range inspection and patrol flights over linear infrastructure under the same regulations as traditional-crewed aircraft.
PAU intends to use this aircraft for various data-gathering tasks, including high-resolution imaging, lidar data collection, thermal imaging, and corona detection. Depending on the specific sensor package and operating area, inspection flights may span distances exceeding 60 miles. This enhanced capability to collect diverse datasets over long distances allows PAU to conduct multiple inspections efficiently within a single flight.
The SDO 50 V2, with its maximum weight of 191 pounds, can carry sensors weighing between 30 and 70 pounds and maintain flights lasting over three hours. This extended endurance makes it suitable for missions requiring multiple sensors. The aircraft offers nearly ten times the endurance and three times the lift capacity compared to aircraft weighing under 55 pounds that operate under Part 107 waivers, allowing BVLOS inspections.
"We take great pride in our partnership with Phoenix Air Unmanned, which has resulted in securing this first-in-kind BVLOS authorization in the United States," said Ulrich Amberg, CEO of SwissDrones. "This FAA authorization not only validates the strength of our CONOPS strategy but also paves the way for other commercial operators to leverage the capabilities of our SDO 50 V2 unmanned systems, setting a precedent for expanded operations in the industry."