Avitas Systems, a General Electric (GE) venture, received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly a large unmanned aerial system (UAS or drone) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the operator in Loving County, Texas. The FAA’s authorization allows Avitas Systems to fly UAS over 55 pounds at low altitudes without a visual observer (BVLOS) for industrial inspections. This is the first FAA-approved civil use of BVLOS with radar. The extended range of BVLOS operations allows for safer and more efficient monitoring of critical industrial infrastructure such as well pads separated by rough terrain in West Texas in the Permian Basin. Additionally, these BVLOS operations allow for quicker turn-around of inspection data which means cost efficiencies and faster facility repairs.

In the Permian Basin these drones are flying over large areas to monitor oil and gas infrastructure, detect leaks and gather data for making more efficient operational decisions. The goal is to lead to improved environmental performance with less strain on road infrastructure.