Use of remotely piloted drones for beyond line of sight inspection of railways, powerlines and roads, and for critical medical deliveries, could be a step closer to normal practice with new proposals put forward by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Proposals set out in a consultation published on 20 February 2024 by the regulator will help operators fly their drones safely beyond the line of sight of a remote pilot and without restrictions on other aircraft operating in the area.

While some drones have been flying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) in the UK for several years, these flights are primarily trials under strict restrictions.

Instead, the proposed measures could enable beyond line of sight operations of drones by remaining at low heights and close to buildings or infrastructure. This means drones can fly where it is anticipated there would be fewer aircraft operating.

Kevin Woolsey, head of remotely piloted aircraft systems at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Allowing drones to fly beyond the sight of the remote pilot, without placing restrictions on other aircraft in the area, will be a major achievement for UK drone operations.

“Safety comes first in everything we do and so we have identified sensible mitigations on where drones can fly using this proposed concept to make sure we maintain levels of safety.”

The new proposals are part of the CAA’s UK Future Flight Programme, which is helping move the UK closer to a future where drones safely share more of our skies with other airspace users.

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