Uh oh, poking the bear... (BVLOS)

As a Part 107 drone operator here in the US and business owner, I work very hard at following all of the many rules the FAA has in place for drone operations.

However, just like with traffic laws, it is sometimes difficult to follow the law to the letter in some situations.

The biggest difficulty I see is VLOS. I personally try to never have my drones leave my sight. Sometimes in this bright Florida sun, however, I’ll lose sight of any one of our many drones, for a second, as my eyes get accustomed to the sun and the position of the drone. This happens regardless of the drone color or the flashing lights I have fixed to them. The Mini 3 Pro??? Ugh, SO difficult for me to see sometimes…

Lately, I’ve been flying without a spotter (visual observer), as we are doing more real estate shoots and don’t fly more than 100ft away in any direction.

What are your thoughts in regard to Line of Sight? Is it necessary? Do you agree with it?


Dan I was just about to post to a similar topic. My intrigue has to do with how manufacturers seem to be flaunting their power against the law makers. The amount of R & D that has gone into FPV technology that seems to minimize or delete VLOS rules is well … serious money to say the least. With the advent of the new whoops devices and FPV goggles, the entire affair is BVLOS it would seem. How is this supposed to be reconciled? I don’t generally fly BVLOS but I’ve only done it when necessary like connection failures etc. or to complete a shot and I take all major precautions about risk to property or people. If I feel that if it is not possible to be safe, I simply don’t do it and the judgement is mine.

Now, if I buy a new DJI Avata how could I possibly comply with VLOS laws? And why is this not a major topic of discussion for Part 107s like us? Am I missin something?

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@daparcher, EXACTLY!

This entire subject has stricken me as being odd since learning of VLOS, even prior to becoming 107.

Like you mentioned, we have these companies that are basically doing everything in their power to break VLOS. I understand the likes of Autel and DJI that put out the drones that we might use commercially, that have 7-mile transmission distances. For many professionals, these are needed, simply because of the strength of said transmission. I appreciate that, especially when flying commercially through interference-rich areas.

But then, as you mentioned, we have these whoops and other FPV drones where a single operator with no VO, slaps on a pair of peripheral deprivation goggles and rips around, up to 80 mph.

I wonder If LOS is not seriously enforced because 1) FPV’s stay pretty much out of any type of manned airspace and 2) most whoops have covered props and are light, so they don’t seem to inflict too much damage in the event of a crash. I simply don’t know.

I know, for a while, that BVLOS is one of the reasons I opted to shy away from FPV for so long. However, with the Avata release and seeing what can be done for the industry my company is now doing more of, I am interested in looking into an Avata.

I’d love to hear more thoughts on this! Thanks for your input…

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I guess LOS is enforced because a lot of things could happen when you lose sight of your drone. When the drone is in view, you are able to act accordingly when you see a bird, plane, or obstacle. But in BVLOS, you will have to trust the drone and the area it flies in. Where I’m from LOS is very strictly enforced and you need a special rating on your license to fly BVLOS

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@p9mwangi Yup, I agree with this entirely. For the reasons you mentioned, I am sometimes shocked that more people don’t see it this way either.

With drones able to fly vertically and horizontally miles away from the operator, anything could happen. The worst-case scenario is a crash with a manned aircraft.

Again, I know that sometimes all of us at one time or another lose sight of our drones, even for a fraction of a second. I personally stop operations until I reacquire the drone’s position, which is usually no more than a 100 or so feet from me.

In any case, safety is a top priority for most and I’m interested to hear more thoughts, even on the opposite side of the spectrum.

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There is much confusion about this out there certainly. There are tons of videos where all types of drone operators conducting range tests with their particular model(s). For example, if using the FLY app after taking off from your home in a wooded area, you can’t possibly have LOS and “visually see” the drone due to trees, cell towers, power lines and other obstacles. Does that mean that because you can see the drone looking at the app such as when using Litchi for example, mean that you are in compliance with that rule? I have heard the FAA does grant BVLOS in rare occasions for Part 107 pilots yet the disapproval of such waivers by the FAA hovers around 99% for those operators performing official work. I would be interested in hearing other thoughts on this and if there is a general consensus about this topic? Thanks in advance!

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Statute 107.31 “Visual Line of Sight of aircraft operation: Remote-Pilot-in-command and the visual observer (if used) must be able to see the unmanned aircraft throughout the entire flight with vision that is unaided by any device other than corrective lenses.”

The following information must be known throughout the entire flight:

  1. aircraft location
  2. aircraft attitude, altitude, and direction of flight
  3. air traffic and hazards in the airspace
  4. determine the aircraft doesn’t endanger the life and property of others

In regards to FPV:

  1. FPV devices do not satisfy the VLOS requirements
  2. A person operating with FPV equipment must use a visual observer

Keeping these things in mind, looking at the flight app does not satisfy line of sight and FPV operators, per the FAA have to have a visual observer to keep LOS.

Interesting stuff here…


@Dan Thank you for the clarification! I tend to think/believe though, through watching numerous videos, that this requirement is not being met by every pilot, hopefully most!

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Sadly you are correct. Many don’t follow it, and actually, promote it on YT with their “distance” tests.

I for one have always been concerned that 1) the drone fails and crashes into people, injuring them 2) the drone colliding with a low-flying helicopter (which is a frequent thing here in Orlando - low-flying copters and small manned planes), and 3) I’d lose my drone because it is out of LOS and it does a flyaway and crashes.


@Dan I do totally agree. The potential for accidents/mishaps is quite huge. Yet, you can purchase a wide variety of third-party apps that can fly waypoints miles away now and I believe even potentially further as technology advances in the future.

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I have been thinking about the different software available that allows ones to easily fly BVLOS (like Litchi), and if the law changes in the future (as it seems to be doing to accommodate big business that are trying to launch automated drones for package delivery - like Amazon and UPS), they just might be a benefit in hindsight to all of us, considering the current DJI Fly app does NOT have proper waypoints. The old Autel app did though.

There are some FAA documents and committees for this very thing. If you are interested in a complicated read, see here, lol


As drones get more intelligent and safer, we might just see BVLOS as a regular occurrence, even for us non-big business drone operators.


@Dan Thank you Sir for the link to information!


Speaking out of both sides of their mouths, DJI releases a new FPV drone and implements VSC simultaneously.


So, there are times like you said during a flight where the sun or something else can obstruct the view of the drone. Maybe like me you fly in an industrial setting and there are obstructions like towers that block your view of the drone for a second or three. When you blink you lose track of the drone while your eyes are closed.
The VLOS is there to ensure that see and avoid is maintained. So, if you lose sight of the drone for more than say 10 seconds then that is an issue. When I have my VO’s trained, I make sure that after about 5-10 seconds if they have not regained visual of the drone to let me know. At which point we pause flight operations to do a situational awareness check by yawing the drone around and shifting the pitch of the gimbal making sure there are no static or dynamic hazards. We also are aware of the general area that the drone was in last and so we know where to look to re-acquire visual line of sight with it. If that doesn’t work, then the drone is brought back to the home point until we are able to regain the visual.

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Excellent suggestions here. With the work that we are primarily doing now (Real Estate), losing LOS isn’t a problem, as we are never more than a couple of hundred feet from the property we are shooting, and I don’t lose track, thank goodness.

My previous VO was an eagle eye and never lost sight of the drones, ever. As we get going with a large construction project in the next month, things might change a little bit. I’ll definitely need to put the 'ole lights on AND probably have to get another VO for those projects…