Press Release | April 12, 2017

U.S. Senator Mark Warner Joins Virginia Tech and Local Companies to Demonstrate Innovative Satellite and UAS Capabilities

BVLOS UAS operations is one of many real-life applications expected to benefit America’s energy sector via Ligado’s Advanced Satellite Terrestrial Network

RESTON, Va., April 12, 2017 – U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner today joined Ligado Networks, the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP), Dominion Virginia Power and AeroVironment for a simulated beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) inspection of critical infrastructure. BVLOS UAS operations is one of many real-life applications of cutting-edge technologies expected to benefit America’s energy sector via Ligado’s one-of-a-kind advanced network specifically designed to enhance mission-critical Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications.

“Unmanned systems are going to open up new avenues for economic growth and improve our quality of life, in Virginia and across the country. We’re working hard to unlock their potential, and what we’ve seen today is that strong partnerships generate game-changing solutions,” said Sen. Warner. “These flights demonstrate that when expert researchers and innovative companies come together, we can break new ground. I’m excited to build on this success as Virginia continues its leadership in the development of unmanned systems.”

“Ligado is planning to deploy an advanced satellite-terrestrial network that will offer unprecedented performance for the emerging 5G and IIoT markets, and commercial unmanned systems are well-positioned to use our technology to serve core industries,” noted Tamara Casey, Ligado Network’s Chief Technology Officer. “Thanks to Virginia Tech, we are fortunate to have an FAA-approved unmanned aircraft test site in our home state, and today’s demonstration with Virginia Tech, AeroVironment and Dominion Virginia Power showed how our best-in-class technology can serve critical American infrastructure and improve safety. Assurance of this kind of continued mission-critical connectivity will unlock all the possibilities enabled by beyond visual line-of-sight capabilities for our country while also ensuring that U.S. airspace remains the world’s safest as unmanned systems are integrated.” 

“Beyond visual line-of-sight operations are key to enabling realistic commercial applications for unmanned aircraft,” said Mark Blanks, director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, which operates the university’s FAA-designated UAS test site. “But we have to make the case that they can be done safely, and collaborative operations like this are what can really move the needle. This is what we do at the test site: help bring together the best partners in the industry to enable an operation that could truly revolutionize the future of unmanned aircraft.”

“The opportunity for unmanned aircraft systems, such as our proven Puma AE, to survey utility infrastructure, digitize crops, protect property and enhance safety is vast and untapped,” said Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “Demonstrating beyond visual line-of-sight operations in a safe and controlled manner using Ligado Networks’ leading satellite communication capabilities will help public and private stakeholders visualize a future in which unmanned aircraft system can help increase productivity, reduce costs, enhance responsiveness and create good, new jobs in Virginia and across the nation.”

The test conducted in Buckingham County, Virginia demonstrated the application of operators using the AeroVironment Puma AE, the first FAA-approved small UAS for commercial operations, to inspect Dominion Virginia Power’s high voltage power lines at distances up to 20 kilometers from the launch site. The demonstration included the reliability, availability and continuity of data links with Ligado’s powerful SkyTerra 1 satellite system. The successful use of satellite-based command-and-control over long distances would remove range limitations on potential commercial applications of unmanned aircraft.


 Ligado Networks is readying an advanced satellite-terrestrial network unlike any that currently exists in North America, providing pervasive, highly secure and ultra-reliable connectivity to critical industries anywhere, all the time. Utilizing one-of-a-kind technologies and capabilities and working with our leading technology partners, Ligado Networks is making stronger connections. For more information, visit:, or follow Ligado on Twitter.


The Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership is designated by the Federal Aviation Administration as one of seven national test sites for unmanned aircraft. MAAP tackles key challenges in the integration of UAS into the national airspace, including traffic management, detect-and-avoid technology, flights beyond the visual line of sight, and UAS injury risk assessment. MAAP is based at the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.


AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) provides customers with more actionable intelligence so they can proceed with certainty.  Based in California, AeroVironment is a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems, tactical missile systems and electric vehicle charging and test systems, and serves militaries, government agencies, businesses and consumers. For more information visit


Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion (NYSE: D), one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy. Dominion provides energy or products and services to more than 6 million customers. It has a portfolio of approximately 26,000 megawatts of generation, including more than 1,100 megawatts of renewable generation, and 6,500 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion also operates one of the nation’s largest natural gas storage systems with 1 trillion cubic feet of storage capacity. For more information about Dominion, visit the company’s website at