Important Step in Path to Drone Integration

Important Step in Path to Drone Integration


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An important step in the path to the integration of drones into the US airspace: A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) program that works to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace is being made permanent. The FAA’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP) will transition to a permanent program called BEYOND. 

The move will continue to allow IPP locations across the country to continue research on flying drones beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS), a necessary step in the path to integration.

The move was announced by Sen. John Hoeven, R- N.D., who worked with the FAA and U.S. Department of Transportation to launch the IPP in 2018, and helped secure waivers for the Northern Plains UAS Test Site to conduct BVLOS drone flights. 

The announcement of the new permanent program comes days after Nick Flom, director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, announced the founding of a statewide network for drone flights, called Vantis. The network will roll out in two counties in the western part of the state, before expanding to the east.

“With our advanced radar and the Vantis network, as well as the operational authorities we secured for the test site and its partners, North Dakota is set to be the first in the nation to conduct statewide UAS flights without visual observers,” said Hoeven, according to

The IPP moved drone delivery significantly forward, among other projects. U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said: “The IPP propelled the American drone industry forward, allowing for unprecedented expansions in testing and operations through innovative private-public partnerships across the country. Now, the BEYOND program will build upon this success, tackling the next big challenges facing drone integration.”