Commercial

BNSF Demos More Beyond Line of Sight Drone Capabilities

By S.L. Fuller | May 9, 2017
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BNSF Train

Photo courtesy of BNSF

BNSF Railway and Rockwell Collins have completed a round of beyond line of sight (BLOS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS) test flights without visual observers. Rockwell Collins said the tests were the “first true [BLOS] commercial UAS flights in the continental U.S.”

Over the last nine months, the two companies have been working together — with the required FAA permissions — to demonstrate BLOS long linear operations, like inspection of railway tracks. This could also apply to pipeline inspections.

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“These tests are yet another successful milestone as part of our railway safety enhancement research and the FAA’s Pathfinder Program,” said Todd Graetz, director of technology services/UAS at BNSF. “We believe these tests will provide a roadmap for how organizations such as ours can safely and routinely fly UAS for commercial applications.”

BNSF controlled the drone during testing with a control radio data link network from Rockwell Collins. The railway has its own licensed radio spectrum and telecommunications network. Rockwell Collins’ data link, the CNPC-1000, cannot be sold or leased, or offered for such, until it obtains authorization from the Federal Communications Commission.

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