Transpower to conduct New Zealand’s first ‘beyond line of sight’ drone flight

Transpower today announced it will conduct New Zealand’s first ‘beyond line of sight’ flight using a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS or drone). Transpower will be the only NZ organisation to have undertaken this type of flight.

This week, a drone will be used to conduct aerial inspections of transmission lines and towers in the Rimutaka ranges. The Civil Aviation Authority’s new ‘beyond line of sight’ framework for these flights means the drone can now travel further afield during these inspections, getting closer to transmission lines and towers on remote or dangerous terrain.

General Manager Grid Development Stephen Jay said this is a substantial milestone in moving further towards the appropriate and efficient use of new technologies when undertaking assessments of our transmission lines and towers.

“We have been working with the Civil Aviation Authority to trial drone flights near our transmission lines and towers since 2013. These trials have shown us that a combination of drone and helicopter flights can help us achieve considerable efficiencies in how we inspect and maintain the National Grid.” he said.

“There are also a number of safety and environmental benefits.We appreciate helicopter inspections can be noisy and disruptive for those living and working nearby, so we are continually assessing locations where drone inspections could be a less intrusive option. The inspections taking place in the Rimutaka ranges will help us identify where we may still need manned aerial operations in future,” he said.