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.”