Dominion Energy is a power and energy company that operates in 16 states and maintains over 6,600 miles of overhead electric transmission lines in Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia. But Dominion, like most utilities, wanted to improve their operations through better data, safer processes, and more environmentally-friendly practices.
Here’s how PrecisionHawk improved their safety practices by developing a drone-based inspection solution.
When PrecisionHawk approached Dominion Energy, Inc. with a plan to replace some of the helicopters and ground crews with drones to improve data fidelity, safety, and environmental impact, Steve Eisenrauch, Manager of Electric Distribution Contractor Resource Management, was intrigued.
Eisenrauch contracted one of the utility’s retired lineworkers to shadow PrecisionHawk’s teams for the first six months. “We wanted to make sure that they were conducting business in a safe manner,” he recalls.
Helicopter missions can be dangerous; pilots need to maneuver their helicopters without colliding with hard-to-see lines or transmission towers. Ground crews and lineworkers can face dangerous conditions like swampy areas and downed electric lines.
PrecisionHawk’s flight operations team is run by a former Navy fighter pilot with 20 years of experience; bringing that background into the flight ops experience ensures that safety is a prime consideration.
PrecisionHawk’s crews are trained in both general and utility-specific safety procedures, mission planning procedures, and emergency management. The safety procedures include:
- Heavy use of checklists.
- Briefs in the morning and evening.
- Briefs before and after each flight.
- A “lessons learned” program to help operators increase their knowledge with each deployment.
- Procedures for disseminating all key details across the flight ops team.
In 2019, Dominion set a new safety record—an injury rate of just 0.62, none of which were associated with aerial line inspections.
Dominion has been impressed with the safety of drones. “We haven't had any incidents,” says Angelita Gardner-Kittrell, Manager of Forestry & Line Services. “And of course, if there were some type of incident, a drone crashing would result in fewer injuries.”
Download the full Dominion Energy Case Study, to learn how we helped Dominion enrich their data and empower action.