Change to FAA Regulation allows 1 operator to fly 3 sprayer drones

05-04 | |
Hylio calls the AG-272 its Texas-sized drone.  - Photo: Hylio
Hylio calls the AG-272 its Texas-sized drone. - Photo: Hylio

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently granted Texas-based drone builder Hylio a regulatory exemption that will allow it to swarm its heavy-lift drones with only one operator in control. The change in rules also promises expanded use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) beyond agriculture’s early adopters.

According to precisionfarmingdealer.com Hylio co-founder and CEO Arthur Erickson says the development was a case of regulations catching up with existing technology and promises a 3-fold increase in productivity for drone operators applying material to agriculture crops, plus a significant reduction in their labor requirements.

“Until this exemption, only 1 drone could be flown per pilot, and if the drone weighed more than 55 pounds — and most crop input drones are in the 300-500-pound range — a visual observer was also required to be on-site of the flight operation,” Erickson says. “If you had 3 drones flying, you would need 6 people on site, which is counter to the entire logic of drones to reduce labor.

“The law finally caught up to the logic and existing technology of unmanned aerial vehicles used to apply materials to cropland. 1 person can now operate 3 drones in a swarm, each doing 50 acres per hour, so that represents a 3-times boost in productivity.”

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Ed Asscheman Online editor Future Farming
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