Hogan Lovells advises Pkya on FAA approval of largest ever commercial drone in U.S.

by | Aug 9, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Global law firm Hogan Lovells advised drone manufacturer Pyka in securing approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its zero-emission highly automated Pelican Spray uncrewed aircraft (UA or drone) commercially nationwide. The Pelican UA has a max takeoff weight of 1,125 pounds, making it the largest drone ever to receive FAA authorization for commercial operation in the United States. More about the approval can be found here

This highly-anticipated FAA approval, in conjunction with an agricultural aircraft operator certificate, will enable Pyka to commence commercial operations in the United States, bringing unparalleled safety, environmental, and economic benefits to American farmers and the greater public. The FAA’s action to authorize Pyka’s operations signifies the agency’s commitment to enabling larger and more advanced UA operations that will save lives and advance American leadership in the $60 billion global drone market.

Lisa Ellman, Partner and Chair of Hogan Lovells’ Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) Practice and leading policy advocate for the commercial UAS industry, said: “This is a significant win for Pyka and the agricultural community they serve. Among other safety and environmental benefits, the use of highly-automated UAS like the Pelican to perform potentially hazardous aircraft operations can reduce the number of pilot fatalities that occur each year in the aerial agricultural spraying industry.” 

Chuma Ogunwole, Pyka’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, said: “It has been fantastic working alongside the Hogan Lovells team on this very important project. The breadth of legal, regulatory, and technical expertise on their team was instrumental in securing this approval and driving this process through a complex and novel regulatory landscape.”

In addition to Ellman, the Hogan Lovells legal team included counsel Patrick Rizzi and senior associate Matt Clark (both Washington, D.C.).

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