On April 11, 2022, our own Kenji Sugahara was awarded the first Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) FPV 107 waiver in the United States (to our knowledge) that does not require a visual observer. 

While the process was not complicated, Kenji benefited from understanding the risk assessment processes within the FAA as well as their affinity for an incremental approach to approvals. To be awarded a waiver, both ground and air risk needed to be mitigated. The FAA not only required a Concept of Operations (“CONOPS”) but also an Operational Risk Assessment (“ORA”). Interestingly enough, the FAA also required FCC documentation of the emitters that were used.  

Kenji based the waiver application upon the idea of sheltered operations or operations below the level of obstructions. Sheltered operations was one of the recommendations in the FAA BVLOS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (of which Kenji headed the safety subgroup). FPV fans will find it interesting that he wrote that crashes were expected and normal! He also found it fascinating that adherence to weather minimums is still required (and that section of the waiver application was denied 107.51(c)).

While the requirements seem to limit the usefulness of the waiver, the waiver opens the door to further push the envelope as long as the safety cases can support expansion. In the interest of accelerating innovation and enabling the industry, Kenji has decided to release all the information in the waiver application as well as all the documentation that was required.

If you will be at AUVSI Xponential, you can check in with Kenji to ask about the waiver as well!

The documentation is provided as-is and their use does not guarantee an award of a waiver. Please join or support the DSPA so we can continue to support the drone industry as well as educate policymakers on the benefits of drones. 

If you have problems accessing the documents below, they are available via dropbox here.

FAA Decisions

Waiver

107.31 waiver approval letter

107.51(c) waiver disapproval letter

Original Application

Original CONOPS, proposed location, and proposed max altitude

FAA Request for Information (RFI)

Official FAA RFI

Response to RFI

RFI Response

RFI Supporting Documentation

ACam Project Aviation Safety Plan Template and ORA

FCC Documentation

By Press