Expanding Horizons: Choctaw Nation’s BEYOND Program Receives Expanded BVLOS Authorization

Choctaw Nation BVLOS AuthorizationLargest FAA Waiver of Its Kind Enables Groundbreaking Drone Operations Over 377 Square Miles, Paving the Way for Future National Drone Management Solutions

By DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian J. McNabb

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma BEYOND program recently announced that it had received an expanded beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) use authorization from the FAA, expanding the original waiver to include an approximately 43-mile long area encompassing CNO medical clinics, the Emerging Aviation Technology Center test site, and various other facilities. This waiver is the largest of its kind in the United States, covering a total area of over 377 sq. miles, and was originally approved in January of last year.

The multi-faceted waiver includes a combination of both true BVLOS (without visual observers) and flights with VOs. Utilizing ground-based Detect and Avoid technology from uAvionix, including their C2 Skylink 5060  radio system for full connectivity, the newly approved waiver demonstrates the potential for these technologies to be used in national drone management solutions. These include the SkyLine management platform and pingStation3’s dual-mode ADS-B receivers.

“This approval is a major milestone for the Choctaw Nation’s Emerging Aviation Technology Center and the CNO Reservation,” said James Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.  “With this approval we continue to achieve major milestones in the FAA BEYOND Program by enabling BVLOS test flights for our partners and customers by leveraging the permanently deployed hardware and software from uAvionix.”

“CNO’s continued success of demonstrating safe and controlled Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations is critical to meet the growing demand for the many use cases of drones including but not limited to package delivery, search and rescue operations, infrastructure inspection, and much more,” adds Marcus Hartman, Aviation Operations Senior Manager for CNO.

More information on the Choctaw Nation is available here. More information on the FAA’s BEYOND program is available here.

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Ian McNabb is a staff writer based in Boston, MA. His interests include geopolitics, emerging technologies, environmental sustainability, and Boston College sports.