Small commercial UAS to survey BP pipelines in Alaska

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted the very first commercial Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operation over land to BP and UAS manufacturer AeroVironment. Together, the companies plan to use AeroVironment’s Puma All Environment (AE) UAS for aerial surveys in Alaska.

The FAA issued a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization for the to survey equipment, pipelines, and roads at Prudhoe Bay, AK, which is the largest oilfield in the U.S. performed the first flight for BP on June 8, 2014.

Using the information generated by the Puma’s sensors, BP hopes to target maintenance activities on specific roads and infrastructure, which will save time and support safety and operational reliability goals, while helping to protect the sensitive Alaskan North Slope environment.

“These surveys on ’s North Slope are another important step toward broader use of unmanned aircraft,” says Anthony Foxx, Transportation Secretary. “The technology is quickly changing, and the opportunities are growing.”

The Puma AE is a 4.5 foot long, hand-launched UAS with a wingspan of 9 feet.

For more information on UASs and the FAA’s Arctic Implementation Plan, visit http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/media/suas_arctic_plan.pdf

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