(source: unmmannedsystemstechnology.com) – Cloud-Seeding UAV Completes BVLOS Test Flight in Nevada

A cloud-seeding research team led by the Desert Research Institute (DRI) flight operations node has announced that it has realized another fundamental capability in its effort toward enhancing snowfall in mountainous regions of the West.

The team flew a Drone America Savant unmanned fixed-wing aircraft from Hawthorne Industrial Airport under Nevada UAS Test Sites Certificate of Authorization (COA), reaching an altitude of 1,500 feet and completing a one-hour BVLOS flight covering a total distance of 28 nautical miles. The test flight of the cloud-seeding aircraft was the longest unmanned, cross-country round-trip flight in Nevada history.

Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) describes an aviation event in which the unmanned aircraft flies autonomously over a long distance. Flight crew members control and track the aircraft in real-time using computer-aided controls, but the pilot is not capable of visually following the aircraft during flight with the naked eye.

We have now demonstrated without a doubt that our unmanned cloud seeding technology and capabilities can move beyond line of sight – a significant hurdle in this industry,” said Adam Watts, Ph.D., principal investigator on the project and an assistant research professor at DRI. “Most importantly, we have done this safely and in following all FAA regulations and guidelines.” (…)

Reaching this milestone allows us to now focus on higher altitude, longer distance flights; as well as the extreme challenges of flying our advanced unmanned fixed-wing aircraft in the harsh, icy weather that come with optimal winter cloud-seeding conditions,” said Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America. (…)

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