Despite stay-at-home orders in more than 25 states due to the coronavirus pandemic, utility workers (including drone operators) remain on the job as the first line of defense of critical power infrastructure.
Pilots with Raleigh-based drone company PrecisionHawk have been deployed around the country to ensure uninterrupted utility service. Under guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the company is part of a network of essential power-grid professionals remaining in the field.
Inspecting power distribution and transmission infrastructure like lines, towers, transformers and other components of the electrical grid can be dangerous and costly for utilities. However, drone tech has improved conditions for power workers by keeping them off of towers and out of harm’s way while providing detailed data about the health of power assets.
“Our standard operating procedures, pilot training program, and safety principles are deeply rooted in our leadership team’s past experience as Navy fighter pilots,” PrecisionHawk vice-president of Flight Operations and Hardware Bill Hanrahan said in an interview.
“We are a professional aviation organization that takes the same approach to flying drones as others do to flying commercial aircrafts, and we understand the tremendous importance of persevering in crisis situations. Like the rest of the country’s essential workforce deployed today, we’re doing everything in our power to ensure our utility customers have the intelligence and support that they need to keep the lights on nationwide with critical infrastructure projects.”
Currently, PrecisionHawk works with four of the top 10 utility companies in the world with nearly 50 drone operators in the field.
PrecisionHawk has recorded 10 years in the industry, evolving from a manufacturer of fixed-wing drones to its current position as a drone software and services provider.
Since that time, PrecisionHawk has taken many leadership positions in the industry, working closely with the FAA on flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and other areas of drone integration. Most recently, former CEO Michael Chasen, a familiar figure in the drone industry, was named Chairperson of the FAA’s influential Drone Advisory Committee (DAC).
In January, James Norrod – who specializes in strategic partnerships – took the CEO helm, while Chasen continues to lead the advisory board – and the DAC. PrecisionHawk has raised more than $132 million from leading venture capital firms.
Miriam McNabb contributed to this report.
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