In the U.S., Flying Drones Out of Sight Is Still Out of Mind

But the Federal Aviation Administration is allowing PrecisionHawk to test a system for managing small drones beyond visual line of sight

For years, companies like Amazon have promised that they'll eventually be delivering packages using drones. One problem, at least in the United States: The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Small UAS Rule doesn’t allow drones to be flown outside the visual range of the remote pilot. That pretty much puts drone deliveries on hold.

The FAA is, however, exploring how to relax that requirement and has waived it for a couple of companies, one of which is PrecisionHawk, based in Raleigh, North Carolina. PrecisionHawk isn’t delivering packages. But it is working on a system for managing drone flights so that they could be safely conducted outside the operator’s visual range.

Allison Ferguson, PrecisionHawk’s director of airspace research, explains what she and her colleagues are doing with their beyond-line-of-sight test flights, such as the one shown here, which took place in Sanford, North Carolina in February 2017.

Read More: A Parallel Air Traffic Control System Will Let Delivery Drones Fly Safely