Skydio X10

NYPA Receives FAA Waiver For Automated Drone Operations

April 19, 2024
The waiver was received with the help of Skydio, a U.S. drone and software manufacturer, and authorizes operations through 2028, specific to Skydio drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a license to the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to fly unmanned aircraft systems beyond the visual line of sight of the pilot in command in a one-mile radius in any unrestricted, or Class G, airspace without prior approval.

The approved waiver has not only expanded NYPA’s ability to use drones to monitor and inspect its transmission, generation and canal assets throughout the state but also advanced the targets of the Power Authority’s VISION2030 strategic plan.

“In the past few years, NYPA has significantly invested in its robotics program, understanding that drones can safely and quickly inspect assets that are critical to the delivery of clean power throughout the state,” said New York Power Authority President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll. “The FAA-approved waiver will further expand the Power Authority’s asset inspection capabilities.”

Pilots are required to maintain visual contact while operating a drone as per FAA regulations. The waiver allows operators to conduct missions without the requirement for the pilot or an observer to see the unmanned aircraft.

The ability to view assets remotely will improve safety for workers and allow for the expeditious inspection of NYPA assets. The Power Authority’s expanded ability to operate drones will primarily be used to inspect transmission assets and canal waterways as they reduce the time required to inspect a transmission line, particularly after inclement weather or flooding.

The waiver was received with the help of Skydio, a U.S. drone and software manufacturer providing equipment and advisory services, and authorizes operations through 2028, specific to Skydio drones.

“Drones have become invaluable tools for safer and more efficient infrastructure inspection and monitoring,” said Skydio Regulatory Program Manager, Jakee Stoltz. “This approval includes the Skydio X10, with upgraded Skydio Autonomy and obstacle avoidance, which enables NYPA to maintain critical infrastructure with greater confidence without the need for an expert pilot.

More than 100 NYPA employees are trained as drone pilots as compared to 40 in 2023. NYPA is investing more than $37 million in its drone program through 2028 to improve the safety and efficiency of its utility operations.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!