Pyka has received FAA approval for its zero-emission highly automated Pelican Spray aircraft, making it the largest ever uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) to be authorised for operation in the USA.

The 1,125lb UAS will be used for commercial crop protection operations nationwide, bringing safety, environmental, and economic benefits to American farmers and the greater public, according to Pyka.

“We are beyond thrilled to celebrate this commercial approval and regulatory milestone,” said Michael Norcia, chief executive officer of Pyka. “Pyka’s aircraft provide an essential tool for protecting crops, unlocking cost savings for growers, and reducing our impact on the environment. This commercial approval is the first step in enabling us to generate massive value for growers in the USA, Latin America, and other markets we operate in, while also laying the operational and regulatory groundwork for eventual scaling into uncrewed cargo operations worldwide.”

With access to Pyka’s fixed-wing, highly automated all-electric aerial application technology, American farmers and neighbouring agricultural communities will benefit from a safer alternative to piloted spray aircraft, increased spray precision, reduced chemical usage costs, and minimized environmental impact.

According to Pyka, its Pelican Spray aircraft is the world’s largest and most productive agricultural spray drone and is already operational on farms in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Brazil.  It can carry up to 540 lbs (70 gallons) of liquid and spray up to 240 acres per hour.

“This is a significant win for Pyka and the agricultural community they serve. Among other safety and environmental benefits, the use of highly automated UAS like the Pelican to perform potentially hazardous aircraft operations can reduce the number of pilot fatalities that occur each year in the aerial agricultural spraying industry,” said Lisa Ellman, partner and chair of Hogan Lovells’ Uncrewed Aircraft System Practice and leading policy advocate for the commercial UAS industry.

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