Cyberhawk: Zero GPS At Internal Power Station Boiler Inspection

5. April 2016

Cyberhawk Innovations, the world leader in aerial inspection operation and survey using Remotely Operated Aerial Vehicles (ROAVs), has completed its first ever commercial internal steam boiler inspection, for one of the world’s leading power companies in Bulgaria.

For experts only: GPS-less UAS indoor inspection flight!

The project which follows on from Cyberhawk’s world first internal tank inspection using ROAVs last year was carried out in an operational thermal power plant (TPP). The inspection operation included a visual inspection of all equipment for integrity and damage assessment.

ROAVs, also known as UAVs or drones, were selected as the preferred method of inspection for this project, primarily to increase safety, reduce risk posed to personnel working at height, as well as restrictions associated with working in confined spaces. Usually this type of inspection is conducted by rope access technicians (RAT) who are suspended on ropes to inspect the boiler’s internal structure.

The Cyberhawk’s pilots had to fly manually and work with an extremely high level of precision during the complete inspection operation. With the added challenge of zero GPS signal inside the tank, and the dark conditions.

Ascending Technologies recommends not to try this without special pilot education, and extensive flight training in manual mode. Even for experienced pilots, a GPS-denied environment is extremely challenging.

Safety procedures for safe UAS inspection operation

Bespoke safety procedures were put into place for this particular inspection operation, with Cyberhawk mobilizing an experienced three-man ROAV team; consisting of an ROAV pilot, inspection engineer and technician, to ensure safe operations and high quality results, enabling a quick and safe inspection of the boiler. The inspection of the critical components was completed within a day; in comparison to rope access which would usually take between three to four days for the same workscope.

Philip Buchan, commercial director, at Cyberhawk added, “The boiler environment is very different from what we are used to; it’s a dark and dusty environment, presenting a whole host of additional operational challenges. The lack of GPS signal meant our pilot had to work with extra precision to produce the desired close visual inspection results.”

Extensive pilot education for extreme UAS inspection operation

“Our pilots undertake four levels of rigorous internal training, and will typically require a number of years’ experience before being mobilized to our most challenging projects, such as offshore or internal inspection projects. The successful completion [of this project has] demonstrated, the level of skill our pilots possess, and the high quality reporting produced by our engineering team.”

“Our track record and experience demonstrates that we are able to undertake the most complex projects, and achieve a successful outcome as a result of careful planning and precise execution,” stated Philip Buchan, commercial director, at Cyberhawk

Headquartered in Livingston, Scotland, and with bases in the Middle East and SE Asia, Cyberhawk carried out the very first ROAV industrial inspection in 2009. Since then Cyberhawk, has completed more than 25 world firsts to date, with blue-chip customers in more than 20 countries on four continents. Learn more about Cyberhawk Innovations.