Transpower permits RPAS for grid works

February 24, 2016 Harriet Jenkins

Transpower today released guidelines to enable the use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) for work to be carried out on New Zealand’s National Grid.

The guidelines for RPAS follow Transpower’s trial flights in 2013 as well as ongoing work with the Civil Aviation Authority, Airways Corporation Ltd, and other airspace users to understand how RPAS can be used to carry out work in a high-voltage transmission environment.

The guidance ensures that work on or near Transpower’s network will be carried out safely, with careful planning and management.

Transpower’s General Manager Grid Development Stephen Jay said that the possibilities for work with RPAS are promising.

“There is considerable industry interest in RPAS technology, and we can see its potential to create efficiencies in how the National Grid is inspected and maintained.

We look forward to working with transmission service providers to plan and undertake RPAS flights as part of the maintenance and project work on the grid that we contract to them.

“However, it’s critical that RPAS users who are not authorised to carry out grid works use their aircraft well away from high voltage transmission lines and substations as they have the potential to put the public, our staff and contractors at risk and disrupt power supply.

“The guidelines we are providing will ensure that operators, other airspace users, and landowners who have Transpower assets on their property are informed about our approach to RPAS work on the grid – and that strict safety precautions are observed,” he said.

“Transpower is committed to engaging with the industry to ensure that our guidance is understood and followed.”

RPAS permitted on National Grid works are restricted to contracted “line-of-sight” work, where an operator is in constant visual contact with the aircraft at all times.

Transpower is currently planning trials to understand the “beyond-line-of-sight” possibilities that may be available in the future.

Information on keeping safe near transmission lines can be found on Transpower’s website.

The guidelines for RPAS use are also available on Transpower’s website. These are to be applied in addition to the Civil Aviation Authority Regulations governing RPAS use.

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