July 28 2021
Managing and monitoring energy infrastructure poses multiple challenges best met through the efficient, cost-effective employment of aviation assets. Massive and frequently remote, pipelines, powerlines, rigs and windfarms generate a mission set best satisfied by the application of the right asset at the right time, whether fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter or UAV.
Increasing employment of high-tech imaging equipment, including LIDAR, for powerline inspection has improved results, but done little to move this potentially high-risk activity away from traditional light helicopter platforms. With safety even more critical in the low-level regime of powerline inspection, a twin-engined helicopter or UAV may be the more effective solution.
Posing similar challenges in observation, flight safety and persistence, oil, fuel and gas pipeline inspection lends itself to helicopter and UAV operation, albeit with the helicopter as the only option when maintenance teams need to reach remote failures quickly. Pipelines require constant monitoring for issues affecting efficiency and creating environmental risk, and may also be vulnerable to criminal action or during times of civil unrest.
Offshore oil and gas rigs require similar careful monitoring for security and maintenance, while onshore extraction and refining facilities suffer an increased vulnerability to criminal action. In these cases, prevention, through an obvious presence – a helicopter noise signature, for example – is often essential.
Identifying and tracking spills, pollution monitoring and survey are more specialised services lending themselves to fixed-wing, helicopter and UAV operations through a variety of installed sensors. Essential to commissioned rigs, they also have great relevance during decommissioning.
And while some elements of the oil and gas industry might be looking towards decommissioning, wind energy is burgeoning. There are similarities between the industries – large infrastructure, usually offshore or remotely sited onshore – yet windfarms also generate unique requirements.
Regular visual and IR inspection is essential, spotting potential problems early and identifying friction hot spots that may indicate inefficiency or imminent failure. The inspection mission is well suited to helicopter or UAV, but the former comes into its own during construction and maintenance. With personnel likely to be accommodated on jack-up vessels throughout the offshore construction process, regular passenger and cargo transport services are essential, while hoisting engineers and equipment for subsequent maintenance is an ongoing helicopter requirement.
We understand the complexities of energy resource monitoring and the challenges of defining the optimal solution to your requirement. From a light helicopter through an integrated multi-platform solution to a ship-based line-of-sight UAV, we’re ready to offer advice on platform definition, compliance and training. We’re also equipped to offer full platform and through-life maintenance options or deliver a complete, turn-key solution.
Glasgow International Airport (EGPF) operates as an MRO and FBO facility servicing business jets at Glasgow International (EGPF) , fleet operators and transient fuel stops.Read more