BNSF Demos More Beyond Line of Sight Drone Capabilities

By S.L. Fuller | May 9, 2017
Send Feedback

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.


“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.

Receive the latest rotorcraft news right to your inbox