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Session 10: UAV Operations and Flight Inspection Applications

Application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems as an Instrument in Flight Inspection
Claus-Sebastian Wilkens, Thorsten Heinke, and Rolf Seide, Aerodata AG, Germany
Location: Regency Ballroom
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr. 19, 9:00 a.m.

During the last years, unmanned aircraft systems have developed from mainly military operated vehicles to tools for data gathering and support in the field of photogrammetry, meteorology, civil protection, and even water safety. In parallel, UAS have developed from tools for professionals to toys for hobby pilots controlled by smartphones. For this reason, this paper is going to have a look at the applicability of UAS in flight inspection.

A complete automatic flight inspection system can weigh up to 100 kg or more and thus would need an unmanned system capable of carrying this payload, flight control and avionics systems, and propulsion installations including fuel. The operation of unmanned aircraft of this size can be complex and laborious with regard to certification, training of personnel, and regulatory limitations.

When thinking of an UAS as an additional tool for flight inspection instead of as a replacement for regular FIS installations in FI aircraft, considerably smaller unmanned systems can be used. Such a small UAS could be equipped with one sensor specific to the measurement task and a data recorder. Data could be processed and analyzed after the flight or during the UAS operation in near real-time via a data link.

This paper presents potential scenarios for the operation of UAS as an instrument in flight inspection and assesses the applicability of these. Additionally, an exemplary overview on the regulations regarding the operation of UAS is given.

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