EVLOS and BVLOS rules both allow operations Beyind Visual Line of Sight
Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) and Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) allows operations outside the Remote Pilot’s direct line of sight. Technically, they are both Beyond Visual Line of Sight. This technicality can make comparing the two confusing, it’s easiest to treat each independently as a rule set.
The maximum distance that can be flown is identical for both EVLOS rules and the BVLOS rules, at 80% of the published link range. So the ability to operate Beyond Visual Line of Sight isn’t the main consideration when comparing the two rule sets. Even the ability to operate via teleoperations, with the pilot potentially thousands of kilometres away, is the same.
The main difference between operating under EVLOS rules and BVLOS rules is in the number of staff required to conduct the operation. The question becomes, is a capital expense (CapEX) or an operating expense (OpEX) preferred?
Most organisations prefer to invest in new capabilities (CapEX) with the lowest possible ongoing costs (OpEX). EVLOS operations, is low on Capital Expenditure, all that is required is some templated procedures and a CASA fee and we are up and running. On the other hand the Operating Expense is high, as the ruleset requires an observer to be within 1500m of the Remotely Pilot Aircraft (RPA) at all times.
When operating under the BVLOS rules the observer requirement generally doesn’t exist, providing a more cost-effective method of conducting the task.
EVLOS is more agile than BVLOS
EVLOS has a strategic advantage over BVLOS. EVLOS is nimble and fast to deploy. Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations under the EVLOS rules are approved Australia wide, while under BVLOS rules, each specific location is approved (each location can be large).
While a competitor is waiting for a BVLOS approval which may take months to process, an organisation holding an EVLOS instrument of approval already has the ability to demonstrate the concept of operations and secure the contract. Once the concept is secure, a subsequent submission can be made for operations under the BVLOS rules, reducing the ongoing expense.
Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations under EVLOS rules does not require an IREX or BVLOS OCTA exam pass. With an RePL and a couple of days of EVLOS training, Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations are a reality.
There are also some locations that can be challenging to operate under the BVLOS rules. Locations within controlled airspace or near busy aerodromes can add challenges to a request under the BVLOS rules. The EVLOS rules are similar to the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) rules when it comes to aerodromes and airspace.
Pros and Cons of EVLOS
Both rulesets have their benefits and EVLOS can be the perfect stepping stone into Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations.
Pros of EVLOS
- Quicker to deploy
- More flexible
- Smaller investment
- No IREX or BVLOS OCTA EXAM requirement
- Off the shelf procedures available
- Off the shelf training is available
Cons of EVLOS
- Ongoing expenses are higher.
- The more observers used, the more complicated the mission becomes
Ultimately an advantage is gained by holding both EVLOS and BVLOS as each ruleset offer unique benefits.