Integrating UAVs into the rotorcraft sector

Integrating UAVs into the rotorcraft sector 3 Oct, 16, Source: Helitech International

From advanced oil rig inspection to aerial search and rescue missions, the rise of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use is allowing businesses to utilise new technology across a range of industries on a scale not previously possible. With the UAV market estimated to be worth $5.5bn by 2020[1] there are many opportunities available to rotorcraft operators, but there are a number of barriers to success such as regulatory policy and air traffic control.

Visitors to Helitech International can hear from a number of global experts who will discuss how the latest developments are likely to impact multiple markets, including offshore, helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) and search and rescue (SAR) missions.

The event’s UAV focused session will take place on Wednesday, 12 October from 14:00, and will form part of the Insight Seminars running throughout the show.  The focus of these sessions is to provide businesses with valuable intelligence and mission insight, garnered from their first-hand operational experience.

Jim Payton, Vice President of Customer Business, Civil Helicopters & Light Turboprops at Rolls-Royce Corporation, will deliver the opening comments. With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, he will discuss how UAVs can help create opportunities in the rotorcraft industry, as well as addressing the potential issues and challenges emerging in this fast-growing market. 

The continued expansion of wind energy production means that there is a high demand for helicopters to support maintenance work, which can present a number of risks.  UAVs have the ability to operate in extreme or remote environments which saves cost, time, and negates risk.  These are just some of the reasons why experts are now looking to expand the use of UAVs in offshore maintenance and wind farm inspection operations. 

Nick Rogers, Co-founder and Chief Regulatory and Training Officer at Sky-Futures Partners Ltd, will take to the stage to focus on how the rotorcraft community can use unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to deliver improved asset inspection to their customers, particularly in challenging environments.  He will also explore how virtual and augmented reality solutions have the potential to revolutionise maintenance programmes and collect data that traditional rotorcraft may otherwise be unable to obtain.  

When it comes to SAR missions, UAVs are playing an increasingly important role.  While helicopters will always play an invaluable role in rescuing people, their deployment can take time and may be hindered by adverse weather conditions.  Devices that can be put to work immediately, will be able to provide early stage aerial support, enabling crews to remotely monitor footage and make better informed decisions on whether to pursue the operation.

With over 10 years’ experience working on UAS related projects, David Pérez-Piñar, Head of UAV Technologies, INAER, will be speaking at the event.  INEAR Spain, a part of the Babcock International Group, provides aerial emergency services and maintenance for HEMS, SAR and firefighting missions.  Pérez-Piñar will discuss the benefits of using UAVs alongside rotorcraft operations in aerial operations while addressing the challenges faced.           

For an opportunity to learn more about improving the work of SAR missions using UAS and UAVs, join Oisin McGrath, Chief Executive Officer at DroneSAR, who will discuss his experience of helping aid SAR missions and how this new technology can be put to use.    

McGrath commented: ““Our ultimate aim at DroneSAR is to save lives.  By using DroneSAR software, we can reduce the risk to crews, cost and search time and as a result offer various lifesaving benefits.  Helitech International is a great opportunity to bring together industry professionals working on the front line of SAR operations to discuss how new technology can help us to improve the service and maintain high levels of safety in the industry.

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