Delair-Tech in coordination with utility provider RTE France set a record by flying a drone 30 miles while controlling it via a 3G cellular network. The ‘beyond visual line-of-sight’ (BVLOS) operation is designed to inspect large power lines.

France’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) approved a specific flight corridor for the experimental flight. Two pilots participated in the takeooff phase and two other pilots landed the aircraft, a 4.4-pound (2 kg) Delair-Tech DT18 composite airplane. The DT18 flew the route on autopilot, guided by GPS waypoints.

More flexible to use, the UAV offers a complementary solution to helicopter inspections for network maintenance conducted by RTE,” said Patrick Bortoli, the utility company’s director of maintenance. “This first 30-mile flight illustrates the RTE’s commitment to constant innovation that contributes to electricity that is safer, cheaper, and more respectful of the environment.”

The milestone in France complemented other recent BVLOS achievements by drone researchers. – AINonline

Featured image by Delair-Tech