My colleague here at Meister Media, Matthew Grassi, cut his teeth on the technology side of row crop agriculture before shifting his focus earlier this year to specialty crops and the emerging cannabis and hemp markets.
But he’s a certified drone pilot and still keeps a close eye on technology in our world. So when he got excited about the FAA’s announced approval of delivery service UPS’ last-mile drone delivery business — UPS Flight Forward — we asked him what it all meant.
“UPS Flight Forward is for Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) medical supply delivery in North Carolina, and that’s big news,” said Grassi. “It stands to reason this can and eventually will go a long way toward normalizing BVLOS missions, the likes of which have long freaked out aviation and aerial application professionals who see drones as a legitimate safety threat to manned operations in the National Air Space (NAS).
“Since its passage in 2016, the agency has approved many Part 107 Waiver Requests for BVLOS missions,” he continued. “But many find FAA’s Part 107 Waiver Process cumbersome, and it makes planning long-term business a pain. Oftentimes waivers for certain operations can take as long as 90 days to come through.”
The ability to cover more ground per flight with a BVLOS model could help make drones more of a viable management tool for larger, multi-site ag operations or an independent ag drone service provider.
Who knows how long it will take for this to proliferate beyond “Big Brown,” but the stars appear to be lining up for more practical deployment options for drones.