Pyka, maker of the Pelican Spray, a fully autonomous and 100% electric agricultural aerial application aircraft, secured the first ever regulatory approval to fly unmanned aerial spray missions at night with a fixed wing aircraft.
Authorized by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) in Costa Rica on July 20th, 2022, the Pelican Spray now has approval to be used by Pyka’s local customers to spray large commercial banana plantations, both day and night.
According to Pyka this development comes as a “major technological breakthrough in the agricultural industry and a monumental step towards the company achieving widespread commercial certification across Central and South America”.
The DGAC issued their approval for spray missions at night based on Pyka’s record of successful missions in Costa Rica to date, as well as a detailed analysis of the aircraft’s capacity for night operations given the specifications of its autonomous flight platform and lighting system.
As a final step in the approval process, officials from Costa Rica’s flight regulator observed a live nighttime demonstration of the Pelican Spray operating over a banana plantation in the northeastern region of the country.
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According to Pyka for banana producers, the practical benefits of spray missions at night are well documented – allowing for better spray distribution and reduced risk of unintended chemical drift due to typically lower winds after sunset, while also increasing the viable spray window from roughly 5 hours per day to roughly 10 hours per day.
Pyka’s technology furthermore eliminates the usage of fossil fuels, thus reducing operating costs for farmers and providing environmental benefits, while enabling round the clock spray capabilities through automation.
Commercial approval for night spray missions is the latest addition to the list of precedent-setting regulatory approvals made by the California-based aerospace company. Having secured nearly US$ 48M in funding to date, Pyka is scaling up manufacturing of its Pelican Spray while pursuing additional commercial certifications in the U.S. and Latin America.
In parallel, the company is translating its successes in the agricultural space to air freight, with the launch of the Pelican Cargo planned for the Fall of 2022.