Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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42 unmanned systems inside   August/September 2018 AIR IPP VIRGINIA yet, community members will have a chance to offer feedback to the team as well as to bring up any concerns they have as the projects progress. While the type of engagement will largely depend on the project, Blanks said, the team will likely first talk with key community stakeholders about what they can expect during testing. From there, public meetings will be held. Community members also will be able to send emails through the team website. The feedback received will tell Blanks and partners how the technology truly impacts community members, and if it's something they see value in pursuing. "The main goal is to showcase this can be done on a broader scale," Blanks said. "It's one thing to operate in a test environment, it's another to do it in the real world and over long distances. The technological evolvement has been happening for years. The focus now is what changes when communities get involved. Our hope is we can address community concerns through educa- tion and transparency." DEVELOPING BVLOS PROCEDURES Dominion Energy first began work- ing with MA AP in 2014 when they needed help obtaining a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FA A) to f ly utility infrastructure inspections. The company recently completed four such campaigns on ex- tended line of sight f lights with both multi-rotor and fixed-wing systems, said Steve Eisenrauch, Dominion Energy's manager of electric transmis- sion forestry and line services. Those tests included using chase planes, daisy chain observers and satellite communications. As part of the Virginia IPP team, Eisenrauch expects Dominion to gain faster access to Part 107 waivers for the more advanced f lights they'd like to incorporate into their operations, he said. He's hoping to begin f lights in late September or early October, but noted the tests will be focused on developing procedures for BVLOS f lights. Dominion is most interested in making BVLOS inspections and patrols a routine part of what they do, as well as deploying drones BVLOS for storm restoration as needed. "What we're after is not so much proof of concept anymore," he said. "We want to actually get out there and start developing our procedures to make this operational. It goes from the proof of concept perspective to how do we make this operational—how are we able to f ly these systems on a regular basis. That's the difference you're going to see in the testing." While Dominion's main focus is BVLOS f lights, that doesn't mean they're not interested in other ad- vanced operations, Eisenrauch said. He sees the potential of deploying drones equipped with infrared cam- eras at night for storm restoration and patrol, for example. Overall, they want to find advanced ways to deploy UAS that will benefit utility companies as well as their customers. "Beyond just being able to f ly our systems operationally, we want to le- verage this for our peers and other elec- tric utilities," Eisenrauch said. "What's nice about our industry is we have de- fined service territories so we're not in competition with one another. We can Photos courtesy of Virginia Tech and Mark Blanks, Mid Atlantic Aviation Partnership at VA Tech. LEFT: A fixed-wing drone flies along a powerline corridor near Farmville, Virginia in 2017, as part of tests that assessed communications performance during longer-range flights. AeroVironment Puma performing BVLOS inspections on a Dominion Energy 230kV transmission line in Buckingham County, VA.

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