Rope-access specialist Skyriders has been issued with a Remote Operating Certificate (ROC) from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). This means it is now certified to deploy its SkyEye drones outdoors within civil airspace, thereby dramatically extending the scope of its inspection services for clients, reveals Marketing Manager Mike Zinn.
Skyriders operated the Elios collision-tolerant drone for indoor confined spaces such as boilers, smokestacks, ducting, tanks and other industrial structures for three years while the application and auditing process was being finalised with the SACAA.
Traditional drones tend to lose their GPS tracking and stability when used indoors, which means that exceptional piloting skills are required. This is where the Elios SkyEye service from Skyriders comes into its own, reports Zinn. A Skyriders operator received extensive training in Switzerland, which has now been supplemented by the ROC.
The Skyriders Elios SkyEye technology is often deployed in conjunction with rope access and other inspection methodologies, giving engineers the necessary visual insight to make any recommendations, whereupon rope-access technicians can carry out further inspection and maintenance and repairs if need be on-site.
Projects carried out to date have included inspection work for a major petrochemical company in Mpumalanga. “The ROC opens up huge possibilities for us. Remote visual inspection of external areas means technicians are not exposed to potentially dangerous situations. Another major benefit is the speed with which such external visual inspections can be carried out, slashing the time required from days to mere hours, and identifying any problem areas that need to be investigated more closely by rope-access teams,” concludes Zinn.