pipeline inspection

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Hey everyone,

I have a friend that asked if I could fly a mission for his employer that is a local water provider. The job would be to either video, pictures, or 2D map the entire distance of a buried 35 mile pipeline possibly several times a year. They have had problems with construction over the pipeline that they were unaware of. I realize this would be a huge job and would take several weeks just to video by itself but to add to the problem it runs entirely through restricted airspace of an international airport and then through an Air Force Base. Has anyone done something similar to this that they would be willing to share some advice and is this even doable?

The idea is to keep an eye on what is happening over the buried pipeline. Video would probably be the fastest to complete but would a 2D map be more informational but just add to the already complex job?

I have done missions using LAANC before but since the airspace is 0' AGL ceiling for 95% of the pipe and the Air Force Base not LAANC supported I would have to use DoneZone for prior authorization. Does anyone know if the FAA would consider authorizing such a mission since it would be a traveling area I would be in?

Any advice or stories would be much appreciated.

Thanks
 
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ianzone

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Mayby Google Earth map might help
 
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The Local Water Provider would have to apply for a waiver from the FAA. Such a waiver should be written to cover as many inspections as the Provider would expect in a year. You will probably have to call the tower when beginning and ending the airport section and the base commander when beginning and ending the base section. Of course you would have to be cognizant of and give way to any and all aircraft that you might be sharing airspace with. Don't know the terrain but 100% Line of Sight would seem imperative. The Local Water Provider certainly has rights to inspect the property. This will be a costly inspection process but based on your name it would seem you you are familiar with the inspection business. Good luck and we would love to hear how it all turns out.
 
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35 Miles? I would say impossible, just from a VLOS aspect. How many take offs and landings would you have to make to complete that job? What visual obstructions (trees and structures) would be along the route that would block your view? How many 20-minute (if lucky) batteries do you have before you have to recharge? Add in the restricted airspace plus military permission. And they want to map it? I'd say their best approach to this would be to examine any latest satellite images along that route and limit their drone investigation to suspected problem areas.
 
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I’d give that one a hard pass unless they are paying TOP dollar. A unobstructed view of 35 miles of water line could be quite difficult without the airspace restrictions you mentioned. Keeping the flights VLOS will require a lot of effort on your part. In addition, I fail to see how paying you to flying a drone along a water line several times a year is going to help them much. I would assume as a utility they would be a member of whatever Call before you Dig (811) organization exists in the state they operate and would be notified of any legitimate construction ahead of time. Any construction performed without this notification is not likely to last long and an inspection several times a year is highly unlikely to catch any violators. If their intent is just to inspect the route for any potential problems that may or may not have been caused by Bubba and his backhoe, it might be better for them to drive/walk the route once or twice a year. Which is basically what they are asking you to do, just with adding a drone to the equation.
 
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35 Miles? I would say impossible, just from a VLOS aspect. How many take offs and landings would you have to make to complete that job? What visual obstructions (trees and structures) would be along the route that would block your view? How many 20-minute (if lucky) batteries do you have before you have to recharge? Add in the restricted airspace plus military permission. And they want to map it? I'd say their best approach to this would be to examine any latest satellite images along that route and limit their drone investigation to suspected problem areas.
Interesting point about trees. It seems I recall there is a type of drone footage that "strips away" trees, foliage, etc. to show what lies beneath. It'd be interesting to know what the best altitude would be to take the video/photos. Might make a difference in the amount of "red tape" if the altitude requirement was, say, 30 to 50 feet versus hundreds of feet.

I'm still trying to process how to video a BURIED pipeline. Might have an easier time videoing the ninth planet. If successful, you could sell that video for a boatload.
 
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It’s not impossible as it is already being done.




 
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Interesting point about trees. It seems I recall there is a type of drone footage that "strips away" trees, foliage, etc. to show what lies beneath. It'd be interesting to know what the best altitude would be to take the video/photos. Might make a difference in the amount of "red tape" if the altitude requirement was, say, 30 to 50 feet versus hundreds of feet.

My comment was not about being able to see the ground through the trees. He will possibly not be able to keep VLOS with the drone through trees or large structures from where he may be standing. And flying at a lower altitude would only make that situation worse. MOBLUE's comment is spot on.
 
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I'm thinking that the only way you can practically fly that pipeline while maintaining VLOS is to pilot from the passenger seat of a moving vehicle - preferably one without a roof.
 
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Hey everyone,

I have a friend that asked if I could fly a mission for his employer that is a local water provider. The job would be to either video, pictures, or 2D map the entire distance of a buried 35 mile pipeline possibly several times a year. They have had problems with construction over the pipeline that they were unaware of. I realize this would be a huge job and would take several weeks just to video by itself but to add to the problem it runs entirely through restricted airspace of an international airport and then through an Air Force Base. Has anyone done something similar to this that they would be willing to share some advice and is this even doable?

The idea is to keep an eye on what is happening over the buried pipeline. Video would probably be the fastest to complete but would a 2D map be more informational but just add to the already complex job?

I have done missions using LAANC before but since the airspace is 0' AGL ceiling for 95% of the pipe and the Air Force Base not LAANC supported I would have to use DoneZone for prior authorization. Does anyone know if the FAA would consider authorizing such a mission since it would be a traveling area I would be in?

Any advice or stories would be much appreciated.

Thanks
Go gett'em, tiger! Be most certain to have your 107 in hand first, though.
 

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