Summer 2017

Drone surveys taking off

James Fisher Nuclear is expanding its use of drones for industrial surveys. 

The team of drone operators at James Fisher Nuclear (JFN) has been increasingly active in recent months conducting industrial surveys in potentially hazardous areas.

A recent inspection of a gas tank at the Barrow North Morecambe Terminal provided real-time images for the inspection team outside the tank. This allowed the team to safely gauge the tank’s condition without the need or costs associated with providing scaffolding or rope access for human entry into the hazardous confined space.

Ever-improving technology means these drones can now undertake survey work in more challenging environments and confined spaces, offering increased safety assurances, faster survey turnaround, and therefore a dramatically reduced downtime for structures under investigation.

As part of this quest for continual improvement, the JFN pilots are receiving specialist training from UAV inspection industry leaders, Sky-Futures, which is providing support in the form of realistic simulations and software solutions. 

This comes as new drone regulations are being proposed for the UK by the Department of Transport in a bid to separate the hobby drone market from the professionals. As part of the negotiation process, Aviation minister, Lord Callanan heard from Sky-Futures co-founder, James Harrison on how the company provides an end-to-end solution for industry as consultants to large engineering companies like James Fisher. 

Drone spec
  • The Elios UAVs that the JFN teams use are compact in size allowing them to access areas that might be otherwise tricky to reach. 
  • The UAV is protected by a collision resistant cage which prevents damage to the structure being surveyed. 
  • A ‘multi-axis gimbal system’ allows the UAV to ‘roll’ up, down and across surfaces in all dimensions to provide clear real time video images.



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