Cloud-Seeding UAS Completes BVLOS Flight in Nevada

The Drone America Savant cloud-seeding unmanned aircraft system (UAS) recently completed a one-hour beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight in Nevada.

The UAS reached 1,500 feet and covered 28 nautical miles, making this the longest unmanned cross-country round-trip flight in Nevada history, according to a news release. The drone was flown at Hawthorne Industrial Airport under Nevada UAS Test Site’s Certificate of Authorization (COA) and led by the Desert Research Institute (DRI) flight operations node. Unmanned aerial data services provider AviSight is also part of the research team.

“We have now demonstrated without a doubt that our unmanned cloud seeding technology and capabilities can move beyond line of sight – a significant hurdle in this industry,” said Adam Watts, Ph.D., principal investigator on the project and an assistant research professor at DRI, according to the release. “Most importantly, we have done this safely and in following all FAA regulations and guidelines.”

The team, supported by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development through the Knowledge Fund, has been working to develop a cloud seeding drone for more than a year. The goal is to create a UAS capable of helping communities address the impacts of drought and to explore solutions to natural resource challenges.

“Reaching this milestone allows us to now focus on higher altitude, longer distance flights; as well as the extreme challenges of flying our advanced unmanned fixed-wing aircraft in the harsh, icy weather that comes with optimal winter cloud-seeding conditions,” said Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America, according to the release.

The test was supported by multiple ground-based safety officials and visual observers.