Uncrewed aircraft flies first U.S. beyond-line-of-sight mission

A team led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks has completed the country’s first FAA-approved true beyond-visual-line-of-sight domestic flight of an uncrewed aircraft system under the small UAS rule.

The flight is a step toward gaining more routine Federal Aviation Administration approval of commercial beyond-visual-line-of-sight unmanned aircraft flights. Such approval could allow organizations to use uncrewed aircraft to monitor pipelines and other infrastructure in Alaska and the rest of the United States.

Operators from the university’s Alaska Center for Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Integration flew a Skyfront Perimeter long range hybrid-electric uncrewed aircraft 3.87 miles along the pipeline corridor, starting at a location near the Chatanika River on the Elliott Highway.

During the flight, the team used onboard and ground-based detection systems, instead of human observers, to detect and avoid other aircraft in the airspace. 

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