Commercial flight builds additional safety case for routine, efficient infrastructure monitoring with UAS technology
Rockwell Collins, working closely with Black & Veatch, has successfully demonstrated a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) unmanned aerial systems (UAS) flight along almost 10 miles of power line infrastructure owned by Ameren Corp., located near Newton, Illinois.
Leveraging the expertise gained from participation in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Focus Area Pathfinder BNSF Railway program, the companies applied a similar safety case to show that Rockwell Collins’ CNPC-1000 Command and Control data link and webUAS operations management technology can be used in other industries with long linear operations, such as inspecting many miles of power lines. The demonstration was supported by safety observers from the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and the University of Iowa’s Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL). The OPL coordinated with Rockwell Collins on the integration of the CNPC-1000 into the test vehicle as well as configuration and flying of the UAS for the demonstration.
“Successful deployment of these technologies could revolutionize how we assess and evaluate the condition of our systems,” said Shawn Schukar, president of Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois. “Ameren continues to focus on providing safe and reliable service to our companies as efficiently as we can, and our continued efforts related to BVLOS operations help drive that commitment.”
“Monitoring critical infrastructure, particularly those in rural areas beyond line of sight, can be done much more efficiently and effectively through the use of UAS technology,” said Ken Schreder, vice president, Strategic Programs, Information Management Services at Rockwell Collins. “We’ve created a mobile BVLOS system with networked command and control capability which enables us to demonstrate the benefits to infrastructure customers.”
For this flight, Black & Veatch was responsible for engineering, design and procurement of the temporary network that enabled the CNPC-1000 radio connectivity. The company was also involved in a joint project management effort with Ameren to coordinate all the various parties involved in the test flights.
“This revolutionary asset management approach provides our clients great value by reducing their overall cost of ownership, improving type and frequency of data capture, and creating a safer work environment,” said John Janchar, executive vice president of Telecommunications for Black & Veatch. “UAS delivers a powerful asset management platform and combines Black & Veatch’s experience and capabilities in the design and deployment of command and control communication networks and utility business knowledge.”
Designated the CNPC-1000*, the Rockwell Collins data link conforms to the industry-developed performance standard for command and control submitted to the FAA by the RTCA Special Committee 228 for commercial UAS operations in the national airspace. Rockwell Collins, along with the FAA and NASA, has flown the CNPC-1000 on various aircraft. For this demonstration, the CNPC-1000 was adapted to support low altitude BVLOS operations in support of critical infrastructure monitoring to radio frequency spectrum beyond the frequencies cited by SC-228.
WebUAS is Rockwell Collins’ operations management tool that coordinates the multi-node CNPC network, provides real-time situational awareness to flight safety critical information such as link quality, and acts as a gateway to weather, air traffic and critical information and services.
St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation powers the quality of life for 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square- mile area through its Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois rate-regulated utility subsidiaries. Ameren Illinois provides electric distribution and transmission service, as well as natural gas distribution service, while Ameren Missouri provides vertically integrated electric service with generating capacity of over 10,200 megawatts, and natural gas distribution service. Ameren Transmission Company of Illinois develops regional electric transmission projects. Follow the company on Twitter @AmerenCorp. For more information, visit Ameren.com.
About Black & Veatch
Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government Services. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries through consulting, engineering, construction, operations and program management. Our revenues in 2016 were US$3.2 billion.
About the Operator Performance Laboratory (OPL)
The OPL is a cutting edge flight research and flight test organization at the University of Iowa with a fleet of six instrumented flight test aircraft (two fighter jet trainers, two twin-turbine helicopters, two piston aircraft), a number of flight simulators, and three unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) testbeds. OPL aircraft are instrumented with state of the art airborne simulation components and fifth generation fighter helmet mounted display (HMD) systems that are used to assess pilot performance in operational contexts. Unmanned assets are used for testing of UAS infrastructure components, sensors, and autonomy components. Contact the OPL director, Tom Schnell at Thomasfirstname.lastname@example.org for information.
About Rockwell Collins
Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) is a leader in aviation and high-integrity solutions for commercial and military customers around the world. Every day we help pilots safely and reliably navigate to the far corners of the earth; keep warfighters aware and informed in battle; deliver millions of messages for airlines and airports; and help passengers stay connected and comfortable throughout their journey. As experts in flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, cabin interiors, information management, mission communications, and simulation and training, we offer a comprehensive portfolio of products and services that can transform our customers’ futures.
* IMPORTANT NOTICE: The CNPC-1000 device has not been authorized as required by the rules of the Federal Communications Commission. This device is not, and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, until authorization is obtained.
Media Contact Information:
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About Black & Veatch
Black & Veatch is an employee-owned, global leader in building critical human infrastructure in Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government Services. Since 1915, we have helped our clients improve the lives of people in over 100 countries through consulting, engineering, construction, operations and program management. Our revenues in 2018 were US$3.5 billion. Follow us on social media.