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Aerial Power Line Inspection Patrols: Helicopter vs. UAV

Aerial Power Line Survey: Helicopter or UAVVery few technologies are so heavily discussed nowadays as much as UAVs / drones. New and economical possibilities for the utility inspection world are anticipated. As an established provider for aerial power line inspection services with manned helicopters, we frequently get asked about the preferable concept.

Aerial Power Line Inspection Patrols: Helicopter or Drone

Reviewing the completed projects over the past few years, we see the demand from electrical utilities of at least two sensors (HD video combined with IR, UV or high resolution photos), a scope of more than 600 miles in average and a certain time frame to complete the project – dependent on the load situation, personnel availability and of course weather conditions. Developments in the semi-professional UAV market primarily focus on smaller UAVs with payload capabilities of one or two sensors at most. The operation time is usually 30 to 45 minutes. Together with the FAA line-in-sight direction it is evident that the UAV technology has limitations in terms of extended line patrols.

But where is the scope for UAVs? In many trouble-shooting cases, an aerial inspection is most helpful. However, the utilization of a helicopter is often overly complicated and time consuming. The same situation applies to spot inspections or surveys of a limited number of structures. In these environments, the UAV technology is well suited and outranges the classical helicopter. Whereas for traditional yearly patrols, the helicopter equipped with a multi-sensor gimbal is still state of the art.

With far more than 150,000 inspected miles we were able to economize the inspection process. We utilize local helicopters that are close to the line, offer three typical inspection options, and have a standardized reporting format that can be implemented in most of the GIS platforms (e.g. ESRI). Furthermore, we provide experienced operators who underwent comprehensive internal training courses as well as external IR / UV certification programs.

Whether you are seeking a yearly patrol or a specific aerial inspection task, we can accommodate your needs and are excited to hear from you!

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