Doosan, Skyfire Consulting Partner for Long-Range Pipeline-Inspection Project

Skyfire Consulting, a public safety drone consultancy, has announced a partnership with Doosan Mobility Innovations to launch a long-range pipeline-inspection project with a major U.S. pipeline operator. 

This partnership, announced at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, will utilize the DS30 hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft from Doosan Mobility Innovation, a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate Doosan Group. Skyfire’s team of pilots, along with Doosan’s support on engineering and hardware, will set off on a six-month-long project to establish inspection procedures along a major U.S. gas pipeline — both for emergency response and routine inspection.

Doosan’s DS30 aircraft uses an on-board hydrogen-powered generator to keep the platform aloft for more than two hours at a time and cover distances of nearly 50 miles.

“Distances like that are simply not possible on battery technology,” said Matt Sloane, CEO of Skyfire. “We’re thrilled to use this cutting-edge technology to help maintain the safety and integrity of our nation's critical infrastructure.”

In addition to testing the aircraft in various weather conditions, the group will simulate responding to emergencies along the pipeline and develop real-time, actionable reporting functions to alert both pipeline operators and public safety agencies of a potential issue.

This group was recently responsible for completing a 43-mile “proof of concept” flight between St. Croix and St. Thomas on behalf of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health. A big part of both that test and the upcoming pipeline tests will be securing FAA permissions to operate the aircraft beyond visual line of sight.

“We are breaking new ground here and we look forward to a positive back and forth with both aviation and pipeline regulators,” said Sloane.

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