Unmanned Aircraft To Fly Over Prudhoe Bay

BP gets clearance from FAA to survey oil fields.

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by Mike Ford

The Federal Aviation Administration has given approval for energy corporation BP and unmanned aircraft systems manufacturer Aerovironment to fly an Aerovironment Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska

This is the first time the FAA has authorized a commercial UAS operation over land. The FAA issued a certificate of waiver or authorization to survey BP pipelines, roads and equipment at Prudhoe Bay with Aerovironment performing the first flight for BP on June 8.

The Puma AE is a small hand-launched UAS that is about 4 1/2 feet long and has a wingspan of 9 feet..

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 North Slope environment.