BP and AeroVironment have been authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to use a commercial unmanned aircraft system to survey energy infrastructure in Alaska and determine areas that need maintenance and repair for the first FAA-approved commercial UAS project over land.
The FAA said Tuesday that the AeroVironment Puma AE will survey BP pipelines, equipment and roads at the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska’s North Slope.
Puma AE was previously authorized to perform aerial operations only over Arctic waters before the FAA modified the restricted authorization to allow land surveillance.
According to AeroVironment, the survey contract with BP has a five-year period of performance and the first flight was completed Sunday.
The Puma UAS is equipped with Light Detection and Ranging, electro-optical and infrared sensors to gather imagery and other data that will be used to create 3D computerized models of the surveyed areas.