On June 10, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the first commercial UAS operation over land. The FAA issued the approval to British Petroleum (BP) and AeroVironment, an unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturer, to fly AeroVironment’s PUMA AE, a small, hand-launched UAS. The FAA originally issued restricted category type certificates for the PUMA and another small UAS last summer which were limited to aerial surveillance flights over Arctic waters.
BP and AeroVironment will utilize the PUMA AE to conduct aerial surveys on Alaska’s North Slope to check BP pipelines and other infrastructure at Prudhoe Bay, the largest oilfield in the United States. The purpose of these surveys is to generate information about maintenance activities on roads and infrastructure. The aerial surveys will support BP’s safety and operational reliability goals while saving time and protecting the environment of the North Slope. AeroVironment performed the first flight for BP on June 8, 2014.
The FAA announcement can be found here.
For more information, please contact Ronce Almond at (202) 457-7790.