PrecisionHawk, Inc., a leading provider of actionable intelligence for enterprises’ physical assets, today announced it is collaborating with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to bring a new wave of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) instruction to electric co-ops across the United States. The course and skills assessment are designed to increase unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) pilots’ knowledge and confidence to inspect electricity transmission and distribution assets more safely and efficiently.
The program includes approximately 10 hours of flight time in the field where pilots will learn the dos and don’ts of flying, safety tips for navigating hazardous environments and emergency situations, and UAS industry best practices for maintaining equipment and increasing its lifespan. The full skills assessment will ultimately test pilots on skill competencies regarding drone-led energy inspections and how to efficiently run a single pilot operation. Upon completion, participants will receive a certificate of accomplishment.
“We’re proud to work with NRECA to bring this new program to co-ops, which play a critical role in powering and transforming communities,” Robert Henley, PrecisionHawk VP of Energy Solutions said. “Many certified FAA Part 107 Pilots lack live flight experience, and our program is specifically designed to give them hands-on field experience to help them carry out inspections of their transmission and distribution assets with greater confidence and higher levels of safety.”
Electric cooperatives in the U.S. power 56 percent of the nation’s landmass, and own and maintain 2.7 million miles of electric distribution lines across 48 states. Roughly 300 electric co-ops currently use drones as part of their operations processes.
“Developing your flight skills and being able to use them in real-world situations is an important next step after passing the FAA exam to become a FAA-certified drone pilot,” said Stan McHann, NRECA Sr. Research Engineer and Chief UAS Pilot. “This program assesses attendee’s UAS piloting skills and helps them understand the UAS sensors in a variety of complex environments. Participants who successfully complete the PrecisionHawk and NRECA skills assessment will have additional tools and knowledge to enhance their ability to complete data acquisition and utility inspection missions for their co-ops.”
The skills assessment is based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for UAS.