BNSF Granted FAA Exemptions for its Drone Operations

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

BNSF Railway has received an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 so it can expand its drone inspection operations.

Under a pilot program approved by the FAA, BNSF has been testing drones for supplemental inspection of rail infrastructure.

The exemption allowed its drones to fly beyond visual line of sight. It includes a programmed aircraft with long-range flight plans to be flown autonomously and out of view of an operator.

Under the FAA exemption, BNSF has:

• permission to fly BVLOS flights below 400 feet above ground level because altitudes higher pose a risk of collision with other aircraft;

• an exemption from requiring a FAA airworthiness certificate because the aircraft does not create a hazard to users of national airspace system or the public;

• an exemption from certain maintenance requirements so that BNSF can conduct regularly scheduled maintenance and inspection in accordance with the drone operation manual; and

• permission for BNSF UAS pilots that hold a private pilot certificate and a third-class medical certification to conduct operations for compensation.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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