News | September 9, 2019

Opening North Sea Airspace For Unmanned Aircraft

Flylogix Limited, the ‘Beyond the Horizon’ unmanned aircraft company, is pleased to announce the launch of a North Sea drone initiative in collaboration with oil and gas multinational Total S.A., NATS, the UK’s leading provider of air traffic navigation services, and the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC).

The project aims to overcome the challenges associated with drone inspection activities in the North Sea and allow commercial operators of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) easier access to UK controlled airspace for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.

The four-partner collaboration is developing and testing a concept for drone operations that will allow UAV operators to react within hours of an inspection request and enable routine BVLOS in the North Sea. The project involves extensive consultation with stakeholders and aims to establish a leading example of safe and reliable drone operations alongside existing users in controlled airspace.

Currently, approvals for carrying out UAV operations inside UK controlled airspace can take up to three months, with requests considered on a one-by-one basis resulting in the granting of single flight permissions. This makes the planning of inspection and logistic services extremely slow.

The collaboration’s strength stems from the combination of FlyLogix’s unique BVLOS capability, Total’s leadership in robotic and autonomous systems for the energy industry, NATS’ expertise in unified traffic management, and the OGTC’s unparalleled position of influence with the UK offshore industry.

Charles Tavner, Executive Chairman of FlyLogix, said: “We are delighted to partner with Total, NATS and OGTC to enable routine beyond the horizon unmanned aircraft operations in the North Sea. This project enables us to conduct daily inspections and emissions measurement without the cost and risk of sending deploying personnel offshore.”

Suzanne Buist, Project Engineer at the OGTC commented: “Collaboration is key. By bringing together industry expertise in oilfield robotics and autonomous systems, alongside aviation specialists, collectively we can accelerate the development of robust standards, ensuring safety and reliability remain a priority. The integration of this new technology alongside existing airspace users is an important step forward in the adoption of drones to undertake a wide range of operational activities in the North Sea.”

Daryl Heaselgrave, NATS General Manager Aberdeen Airport, said: “NATS has long been an integral element of aviation safety in North Sea operations and we are excited by the opportunity to help develop beyond visual line of sight capability.

“We recognise that such autonomous technology can bring huge benefit to the oil, gas and renewables sector and we believe we can help unmanned aerial vehicles and current airspace users operate safely in an integrated North Sea environment.”

About FlyLogix
FlyLogix provides commercial beyond-the-horizon inspection services for the offshore energy industry. FlyLogix is able to obtain imagery of an offshore platform or gas readings from around the facility without the cost and risk of mobilising crew offshore. Our customers include major international and independent oil and gas companies.

Since 2017, FlyLogix has held the record for the longest commercial drone flight in the UK: in July 2017, FlyLogix successfully conducted the UK’s longest civilian BVLOS drone flight, completing an inspection of Centrica’s DP3 unmanned platform in Morecombe Bay that involved a round trip of 88km.

About The Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC)
The Oil & Gas Technology Centre is a not-for-profit, industry-led, technology research and development organisation based in Aberdeen. The Oil & Gas Technology Centre was established in October 2016 with £180M funding as part of the Aberdeen City Region Deal. The Deal is a long-term improvement programme to enhance growth, competitiveness, connectivity, infrastructure, housing and employment into an already successful regional economy. The Deal is supported by the Scottish Government, UK Government, Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Opportunity North East.

An additional £174.1M has to be generated in matched funding from industry, university or others as part of the Centre’s long-term funding, which can be both cash and in-kind.

About NATS
NATS is a leading air traffic management and solutions company, established in the UK in 1962 and now operating in countries around the world.

NATS handled 2.6 million flights in 2018, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic from its centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS also provides air traffic services at 13 UK airports; at Gibraltar Airport and, in a joint venture with Ferrovial, at a number of airport towers in Spain.

Building on its reputation for operational excellence and innovation, NATS offers aerodrome, data, engineering, capacity, efficiency and environmental performance solutions to customers worldwide, including airports, airlines air traffic service providers and governments.

For more information, visit www.nats.aero.

SOURCE: FlyLogix Limited