Virginia Tech ( Research)

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Locating, Inspection

Researchers use unmanned aircraft to inspect energy pipeline route

Aerial inspection of energy pipelines is federally required in the U.S. and typically performed using manned aircraft flying at low altitudes. If validated, unmanned aircraft technologies can potentially reduce risks to pilots and the public.

The first Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech test flight using a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft to inspect an energy pipeline route – with a piloted chase plane following behind to ensure safety beyond the ground observers’ sight line – was completed on March 17. The flight was a step toward making aerial inspections of energy pipelines safer and more economical, researchers say.

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