Rockwell Collins and BNSF Railway successfully demonstrate beyond visual line of sight operations of commercial UAS with routine 200+ mile test flights
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (May 9, 2017) – In a series of test flights conducted over the last nine months, Rockwell Collins and BNSF Railway have successfully demonstrated how UAS are used to perform Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) long linear operations, like inspecting railway tracks using unmanned aircraft, which can increase safety and efficiency for railroads. Additionally, through authorization received from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), BNSF is flying without visual observers, making the latest round of test flights the first true BVLOS commercial UAS flights in the continental U.S.
During the flights, BNSF controlled its aircraft utilizing the Rockwell Collins control radio data link network deployed throughout BNSF’s Clovis, New Mexico, operational subdivision. Using BNSF’s licensed radio spectrum and telecommunications network, the command and control radio automatically detects the best tower-to-aircraft link and manages tower handoffs while maintaining positive aircraft control as the UAS navigates across the range. The aircraft can be launched and recovered from anywhere in the network. In addition, the network can conduct both tower and ground control station hand-offs.