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Total launches North Sea drone initiative

10/09/2019
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Total have entered into a partnership with unmanned aerial vehicle company FlyLogix on a new initiative for North Sea drone operations.

FlyLogix aim to improve the potential for drone use in the North Sea to inspect offshore projects
(Image via FlyLogix)

The four-way partnership also includes air traffic navigation services provider NATS and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC).

The project aims to overcome the challenges associated with drone inspection activities in the North Sea. The four companies want to make it easier for UAV operators to gain access to UK controlled airspace for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. 

FlyLogix use drones to inspect offshore operations and provide accurate and timely operational data, without the cost of offshore transport.

Currently requests for UAV operations inside UK controlled airspace are considered on a one-by-one basis and can take up to three months for a single flight permission, making the planning of inspection and logistics services extremely slow. 

The new venture seeks to develop and test a concept for drone operations that will allow UAV operators to react within hours of an inspection request and enable routine BVLOS in the North Sea. It will involve extensive consultation with stakeholders to establish a leading example of safe and reliable drone operations alongside existing users in controlled airspace.

“We are delighted to partner with Total, NATS and OGTC to enable routine beyond the horizon unmanned aircraft operations in the North Sea. This project enables us to conduct daily inspections and emissions measurement without the cost and risk of sending deploying personnel offshore,” said Charles Tavner, Executive Chairman of FlyLogix.

The partnership hopes to leverage FlyLogix’s BVLOS capability, Total’s leadership in robotic and autonomous systems for the energy industry, NATS’ expertise in unified traffic management and the OGTC’s position of influence within the UK offshore industry.

“Collaboration is key. By bringing together industry expertise in oilfield robotics and autonomous systems, alongside aviation specialists, collectively we can accelerate the development of robust standards, ensuring safety and reliability remain a priority. The integration of this new technology alongside existing airspace users is an important step forward in the adoption of drones to undertake a wide range of operational activities in the North Sea,” said Suzanne Buist, Project Engineer at the OGTC.

“NATS has long been an integral element of aviation safety in North Sea operations and we are excited by the opportunity to help develop beyond visual line of sight capability,” added Daryl Heaselgrave, NATS General Manager Aberdeen Airport.

“We recognise that such autonomous technology can bring huge benefit to the oil, gas and renewables sector and we believe we can help unmanned aerial vehicles and current airspace users operate safely in an integrated North Sea environment.”

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Total launches North Sea drone initiative - Time to read 3 min
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