Aerodyne FULCRUM BVLOS Drone Ops for Pipeline

The Energy Drone & Robotics Coalition holds a three-day summit each year. It attracts, connects and informs thousands of global unmanned spacecraft leaders in the fast-growing energy sector. Drone Life contributor Dawn Zoldi will be attending this event, highlighting some of the key challenges and solutions being discussed for successful operation of drones, satellites and robotics, from the stars to the ocean floor.

Aerodyne Group introduces local BVLOS for remote control in Malaysia at Energy Drone & Robotics Coalition Summit

Dawn Zoldi

Aerodyne Group, a global DT3 (Drone Technology, Data Technology, Digital Transformation) enterprise solution provider headquartered in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, has launched its first localized Remote Operations (BVLOS) drone project beyond the line of sight. In Malaysia. This nested intelligent system (FULCRUM) ultimately autonomously monitors the right side of the pipeline (ROW) and assesses intrusions over 1630 miles.

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Malaysian energy companies are currently using helicopters to monitor potential pipeline ROW intrusions. The cost of these flights averages US $ 150,000 per mission, so the current inspection cycle consists of one deployment every six months.

After the aircraft confirms the intrusion, targeted foot patrols complement these flights as needed. On average, these manual tests send two people eight hours apart at a time. Obvious dangers aside, it costs about US $ 500 each time a human deploys to scrutinize a potential pipeline problem.

According to Drone Industry Insights, in 2021, Aerodyne, the world’s number one drone service provider, will use its own Drone Inbox (DIB) or Nested Drone System (NDS) solution, Aerodyne FULCRUM, to inspect these pipelines. I am planning to convert it to digital. This DIB or NDS has generally been proven to improve the safety, efficiency and quality of data acquisition and analysis across the energy sector.

Aerodyne FULCRUM autonomously launches unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), flying based on pre-programmed flight plans or ad hoc requests via pipeline ROWs and collecting proximity data. The drone will return to a highly sophisticated, self-contained, networked landing box for battery replacement and safe storage. Each compact unit weighs just over 200 pounds and can be mounted behind a pickup truck. Up to 6 batteries can be charged at the same time and the system can automatically replace the drone’s battery in less than 90 seconds.

Aerodyne FULCRUM

In the early stages of the project, the company will strategically deploy 13 units of FULCRUM systems at multiple sites within the block valve station compound along ROW. Each drone collects data and monitors intrusions up to 5 miles around the nest 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

As part of this Phase 1, Aerodyne also needs to overcome key challenges. Maintaining stable communications, cybersecurity and system reliability in Malaysia’s tropical environment ranks highest among these.

Once the company proves the drone’s value proposition with pipeline inspection, it will become more autonomous and further expand the drone’s flight parameters in subsequent project phases. In the next phase, Aerodyne plans to introduce up to 60 miles of BVLOS operations in the third quarter of 2022.

According to Harjeet Johal, a corporate leader in North America, Mexico and the Caribbean, Aerodyne FULCRUM provides pipeline inspection by providing safe, reliable, cost-effective and autonomous 24-hour functions. It radically changes the fighting rhythm of. “Our nested drone system enables energy companies to quickly scale, digitally convert, operate safely and increase productivity,” he said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) has provided special BVLOS approval to carry out these operations. Like the United States and many other countries around the world, the operation of BVLOS drones is an exception to the general rule that requires a remote pilot to maintain the line of sight of an aircraft.

Malaysia uses a specific operational risk assessment (SORA) from the Joint Risk-Based Authority (JARUS) for rule-making for unmanned systems. JARUS SORA requires both ground and air risk assessments and associated specific assurance and integrity levels (SAILs). These SAILs need to promote and achieve operational safety goals (OSOs).

According to Johal, Aerodyne addressed the risks on the ground by planning flights in less populated areas and installing geo-fence around the ROW of the pipeline. Each drone also includes a parachute function to mitigate potential ground risk, if needed. Mitigating aviation risk involves issuing notifications to the aviation mission (NOTAM) while the drone is in operation. The Operations Center also maintains wireless communication with Air Traffic Control (ATC) and provides ATC with real-time flight telemetry data.

In this case, approval of BVLOS took several months. This included a pre-application meeting to submit the proposed SORA plan to the CAA, followed by a formal application meeting. Document SORA reviews and evaluations, operational concepts and risk mitigation prior to demonstrating features, the final step of approval.

“We are taking a crawl walk run approach in Malaysia,” said Johal. “Our team is excited to start crawling with short-range autonomous BVLOS operations with the ultimate goal of a nationwide pipeline surveillance flight that can be carried out remotely.”

Long-haul BVLOS flights in Malaysia include integration of in-flight detection and evasion technology with UAS traffic management systems.

Keep an eye out for the company as it continues to bend the global technology curve. The goal is to solve the complex industrial challenges of Malaysia and beyond in the energy sector.

Read more about Aerodyne:

Dawn MK Zoldi (Colonel, USAF, retired) is a 28-year active duty and federal civil servant lawyer for the United States Air Force. She is the CEO and Founder of P3Tech Consulting and an internationally recognized expert on unmanned spacecraft system law and policy. Zoldi has contributed to several magazines and hosts popular high-tech podcasts. She is also a part-time professor at two universities, Zoldi, undergraduate and graduate. In 2022, she won the Airwards People’s Choice Industry Impactor Award, was recognized as one of the top women to follow on LinkedIn, and was listed on the eVTOL Insights 2022 PowerBook. For more information, follow her on her social media and visit the following website: https: //

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