You are here

Beyond Visible Line of Sight Technology for UAS Meteorological Missions


With the technology advances in UAS systems, which includes sensors and platforms, it is of great interest to organizations that collect meteorological data to fully exploit the unique capabilities of UAS, which are expanding rapidly, to meet data requirements for improved weather forecasts. These organizations will benefit from the commercialization of research and technology development to enable beyond line of sight UAS flight to help enhance atmospheric measurements. Continuous measurements of temperature, relative humidity, and turbulent winds in the lower layer of the Earth’s atmosphere from the surface up to 3km (9,843 feet) above ground level (AGL) have great potential to improve hazardous and extreme weather forecasts. UAS with calibrated meteorological sensors now have the ability to make these measurements and have been approved by other non-U.S. civil aviation authorities. However, U.S. companies have not yet been successful in developing a UAS approved by the FAA for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) for meteorological profiles. In the U.S. BVLOS flight operation requires mitigations to meet FAA sense and avoid requirements (FAR 91.113). Federal agencies and industry are beginning to be successful in receiving approval for UAS operations beyond visual range using a variety of mitigation strategies. It is a priority and imperative to accelerate BVLOS technology through innovative research and mitigation strategies such as air/ground based radar, aircraft detection technologies, and through safety risk analysis and airspace density studies. Development of BVLOS technology is a high priority need in the UAS industry. Successful BVLOS technologies will continue to be in demand as UAS utilization increases. A successful project for this subtopic would provide the technological, engineering, and/or data driven solution that mitigates the risk of collision of the UAS with other aircraft for vertical flight profiles from the surface to 10,000 ft above the ground. Typical flight times are expected to be no more than 45 minutes and be contained within a 1,500 ft radius. The technical solution should be capable of being integrated with both Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) and fixed wing UAS that are currently being operated by industry and scientific community. The new prototype UAS will need to have the capacity for integrating atmospheric sensors or use a UAS that already has the atmospheric sensor. This subtopic seeks a technological solution that can be proposed to the FAA to enable BVLOS flight for atmospheric profile measurements. Locations for initial test and development are not critical. The long term goal is for meteorological organizations to have the ability to deploy this new BVLOS system for atmospheric vertical profiles in locations that have the most impact for improving forecasts of extreme weather. Note: UAS BVLOS atmospheric profile measurement flights are currently being conducted in other countries where airspace can be segregated by civil aviation authorities for UAS flights. This is not an acceptable means of obtaining BVLOS flight in the United States.
US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government