Natural Gas Pipeline sUAS-Enhanced Inspection

Drone over ROW
GES pilot
GES drone pilot
Drone ready for launch

GES completed the annual inspection of over 100 miles of natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for a large U.S. natural gas producer. The inspections were part of the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) federally regulated program for pipelines and pipeline operations. GES employed the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) equipped with an Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) camera, which detects and visualized hydrocarbon gases. Our FAA-licensed pilots were trained in accordance our client’s PHMSA-required Operator Qualification (OQ) program. Real-time inspections were performed during flight, and the OGI footage was reexamined post-flight as a secondary check. Reports documenting the presence/absence of methane along the pipeline were generated from the inspections and delivered to the client. 

These unmanned aerial inspections alleviated the risk of traversing difficult terrain on foot and reduced the costs of inspections performed with manned aircraft. Additionally, time-stamped and GPS-stamped footage from the inspections was delivered to the client, providing real-time proof of inspection that can be reviewed at any time by anyone, thereby reducing the overall liability for the client. 

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