The Future of Drones and BVLOS Operations

May 12

Drones have changed the face of dozens of industries. With the ability to capture huge amounts of data in short flights, drone systems are the ultimate tool for inspections, mapping, assessment and project planning. But we’re still only scraping the surface of what drones can achieve due to limitations such as CASA’s line of site requirements.

Until recently, CASA have placed strict limits on who can pilot a drone Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). However, with the industry advancing, CASA is preparing to meet demand by offering a new BVLOS rating that makes advanced operations more accessible for pilots, clients and ReOC holders.


What is Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Training?

Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) training equips operators with the skills and knowledge required to pilot a drone outside your direct line of sight. BVLOS operations come with their own unique set of risks and challenges. To ensure you’re aware of your responsibilities as a pilot, CASA only permits certified pilots to operate drones in these conditions.

To obtain your rating, you need to pass the BVLOS Outside Controlled Airspace (OCTA) exam issued by CASA. Obtaining your BVLOS rating requires a pass in both the theoretical exam and a practical flight test. The aim of this exam is to expand your knowledge of drone operations and aviation theory. During BVLOS training, you will be introduced to advanced concepts, and you’ll need to develop a deeper understanding of drone systems, aviation, mission planning and safety assessments.


Do I Need BVLOS Training?

You need BVLOS drone training if you intend to pilot a drone outside your visual line of sight on a commercial basis. Under the current legislation, RePL holders are only allowed to operate drones within visual line of sight. In order to expand the capabilities of ReOC holders and make better use of emerging drone technologies, CASA offers BVLOS ratings that allow pilots to operate drones beyond visual line of sight.

The BVLOS OCTA examination is built-for-purpose and designed specifically for drone operators. It serves as an alternative to the Instrument Rating Examination (IREX), which is primarily aimed at the pilots of crewed missions.

Operating a drone outside your visual line of sight comes with serious risks to bystanders, other air users and private property. For that reason, CASA restricts who can conduct BVLOS missions and carefully assesses each mission application. Anyone who wants to conduct a BVLOS mission is required to pass the BVLOS OCTA exam and pilot their drone on behalf of an ReOC that holds an Instrument of Approval for BVLOS operations.


BVLOS vs EVLOS Training

CASA’s standard operating conditions state that RePL holders are only permitted to fly a drone within visual line of sight. If you want to fly a drone outside your line of sight, you’ll need BVLOS or Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) training. The BVLOS and EVLOS systems are very similar, and both allow you to fly a drone without direct line of sight.

The major difference between BVLOS and EVLOS operations is the need to use observers. When flying an EVLOS mission, the drone must always be visible to the pilot or to an observer. If you’re conducting an operation over a large area or inaccessible terrain, it may not be practical to use observers, in which case you’d need a BVLOS endorsement.


What You Need to Undertake BVLOS Training

The BVLOS OCTA exam is open to people who hold an existing RePL. Your RePL will be updated with a BVLOS endorsement once you have obtained a pass mark on the exam. This endorsement allows you to plan and fly missions on behalf of an ReOC holder that is approved to conduct BVLOS operations.


Explore Drone Training and BVLOS Programs at Toll Uncrewed Systems

Obtaining your BVLOS endorsement is the best thing you can do for your career as a drone pilot!

As BVLOS missions become common, more ReOC holders will need pilots who are equipped to handle these complex operations. Toll Uncrewed Systems works closely with CASA, and we have developed our own BVLOS program that can equip you with everything you need to pass the OCTA exam.

With a team of skilled pilots and drone operators, as well as decades of industry experience, we are ready to help take your career to the next level. You can browse our RPAS training courses online, or speak to a training consultant if you’re unsure which program is right for you.


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