Hurricane Barry made landfall in Louisiana on the afternoon of July 13th, 2019. Critical infrastructure that keeps the lights on near Baton Rouge needed inspection in the aftermath. With 25.5 miles of 500kV power lines as the target, it was imperative to expedite the inspections.
Energy companies in the United States are pressured to prepare for hurricanes every year, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to mitigate risk for what could be a false alarm or a natural disaster. This hurricane season, Soaring Eagle Imaging (SEI) served a major Louisiana energy provider with both parties reaping the benefits of their preparation.
Soaring Eagle Imaging is a professional aviation organization, and a partner/customer of Censys Technologies that utilizes unmanned technology for multiple inspection applications to serve a host of enterprise clients. Having over 30,000 manned aviation hours to accompany their 3,000+ UAS hours, SEI brings a strong safety culture to every operation.
This is reflected in the 17 emergency Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) waivers they have been granted in the past. Upon completion of operations, CEO William Paden had this to say: “SEI is now positioned to safely perform BVLOS operations as a ‘normal’ daily mission. The experience gained during training and field missions prove SEI teams are exceptionally proficient in the tasks required to safely conduct these types of operations.”
SEI began conducting BVLOS flights using a Censys Technologies Sentaero v2VTOL with no remote visual observers once it was determined that safe flights could be conducted. In three missions, the single crew was able to capture 51 miles worth of detailed information in 6 total hours of time in the field – including setup, tear-down, and transit. This enabled identification of the scope of damage and corresponding locations, helping facilitate swift repairs.
From Mr. Paden: “The level of professionalism from the entire Censys team is the reason our organization is able to continually set new standards in the UAV realm. The constant communication with the leadership and engineering team was instrumental in the aircraft performing to the level it did. Without Censys Technologies, SEI would not have been successful [July 22nd, 2019].”
Currently, there are only 30 commercial entities with approved BVLOS waivers in the United States, making these flights rare. Censys CEO Trevor Perrott remarked on SEI’s BVLOS operation: “I’m ecstatic to see a great partner and customer of ours employ our technology with such an emphasis on safety to deliver exceptional value to energy asset owners. I could not be happier with the partnership we have in SEI, and I’m confident we’ll continue to set standards together. I’m grateful to the FAA for approving the operation without requiring remote visual observers, as yesterday shows BVLOS can be executed safely and economically.”