From Safety to Flying

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6 May 2020

A day in the life of a UAS Pilot…A view from the Outside In

ARE engineers and drone pilots are always on the go.  Packing their bags, making sure they have all the necessary equipment, and most importantly, they are staying safe with masks and gloves. But… what’s it like out on a project when you’re not an engineer OR a drone pilot?  The simple answer is it’s fun and informative!  As long as you don’t get in the way, of course.

Recently our UAS team headed out to Manchester, NH, to do LiDAR scans of the powerlines for Eversource Energy.  The team consisted of Will Rasid and Jeremy Copenhaver, UAS Pilots.  Watching them run through the paces was truly amazing because they went through all the necessary steps so effortlessly.  Personally, I wouldn’t know where to start!  Before even stepping out into the field, our team obtained the airspace approval (very important considering there was an airport 5 miles away) and charged all the necessary equipment.  SO much goes into each project before we even begin!

Once on the project site, we quickly checked in with Eversource.  Due to COVID-19, they followed all the protocols by asking us crucial questions regarding our health and then proceeded to take our temperature. It’s genuinely nice to have clients who are looking out for the health and safety of everyone.  Thanks, Eversource!

After our check-in, we scouted the area and laid out the Aeropoints and the Base Station.  Aeropoints are essential for QA/QC of the ground control checkpoints. They each have their own GPS that records their location information. The Base station gathers GPS data that is used during the processing stage for a more accurate location of the data.  Needless to say, accuracy is key here, and we pride ourselves on it.  Next, we unboxed the drone!  Will, the lead here, went through the tailboard safety briefing to identify any hazards, walked us through the pre-flight checklist, and double-checked the aircraft and surroundings for good measure.

Once the safety checklist has been run through, and all the drone tinkering was done, it was time for takeoff!  Truly amazing to watch Jeremy fly this aircraft so effortlessly while Will stood behind him, monitoring the LiDAR sensor activities from a high-powered laptop.  From our first location, we did three flights scanning the power lines and surrounding areas.  Due to FAA Part 107 regulations, and not wanting to shut down the active roadway, we drove to a secondary site across the highway to do one last LiDAR scan.  Overall a quick afternoon project.  No doubt, it went so smoothly due to the professionalism and efficiency of our team.  SO, what’s next?!  We will take this data and process it.  We’ve even developed our own software to share it remotely so that our client’s team can collaborate more effectively!  That, however, is a whole other blog on AREview™ Project Management Portal (AREview™ PMP).

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