June 5, 2023


An Unmanned Community

Dominion Energy, Skydio Drones: BVLOS Waiver for Power Generation Facility Inspection

Dominion SkydioDominion SkydioDominion Energy Obtains Waiver for Operation of Skydio Drones

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M Crosby

Today, Dominion Energy and Skydio announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted the energy company an approval to operate Skydio drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) for the inspection of power generation facilities in seven states.

DroneLife · Dominion – Energy – Scores – BVLOS – Waiver – For – Skydio – DronesDominion and Skydio secured the waiver through the FAA BEYOND program, as part of the Virginia team led by the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP) alongside the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation.

The waiver enables operators to fly drones beyond their line of sight without the need of an additional crew member or technology to detect crewed aircraft. Skydio’s AI technology provides the pilot with the ability to safely fly in a closer proximity to structures than would be possible with a drone utilizing less advanced technology. The waiver will allow Dominion Energy to conduct scaled BVLOS operations to inspect over 40 power facilities throughout Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. There, the drones will take volumetric measurements and assess construction progress, provide surveying and mapping services, and inspect infrastructure.

“A 20-minute inspection by a battery-powered drone will increase safety for our colleagues, who will no longer need to rappel down the side of a structure, as well as save time during inspection-related preparations,” said Nate Robie, Dominion Energy’s manager of unmanned systems program. “As a pioneer in beyond visual line of sight drone use, Dominion Energy contributes to a safer, greener future, as well as potentially lowering operations and maintenance costs, which ultimately benefits our customers.”

These operations will be carried out using Skydio’s X2 drone, a durable, foldable aircraft utilizing the Skydio Autonomy flight engine. Skydio Autonomy allows for safe navigation within any environment, even without GPS, due to its 360° obstacle avoidance. The USA-made Skydio X2 meets all supply chain and cyber security requirements necessary for inspecting critical infrastructure.

“This pivotal approval brings Dominion Energy, Skydio and the entire drone industry one step closer to advanced drone operations at scale,” said Jenn Player, Skydio’s Director of Regulatory Affairs. “When it comes to scaling beyond visual line of sight operations, having an intelligent drone makes all the difference and Skydio was proud to support Dominion Energy in obtaining this waiver that enables them to inspect critically important facilities.”

Leading Virginia’s BEYOND team, MAAP’s work has regularly resulted in industry-leading landmark authorizations and operations. MAAP works alongside the FAA, as well as other federal agencies and leading companies, on research and advanced testing to develop innovative new solutions.

“Two major goals of the research we conduct as an FAA-designated test site are helping companies like Dominion develop practical ways to use drones to make their operations safer and more efficient, and working with drone companies like Skydio to find opportunities to leverage the real power of their technology to make new kinds of operations possible,” said MAAP director Tombo Jones. “This waiver achieves both of those things and is a real win for us in our efforts in the BEYOND program. We’re excited to see the difference it will make for Dominion and Skydio now, and what it lays the groundwork for in the future.”

Read more about Skydio drones:

Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.


Miriam McNabbMiriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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Tags: BVLOS dronesDominionenergy dronesSkydioSkydio X2