Cyberhawk drone completes first ASME code inspection at U.S. nuclear plant

Cyberhawk Innovations recently used an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to inspect two concrete PWR containment domes for American Electric Power at the Cook Nuclear Plant.

This marked the first time the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) used a drone according to the Section XI Code, which refers to several American Concrete Institute standards for completing an examination, according to a news release. The inspection has been recognized within the nuclear industry as a best practice based on these standards. 

Typically, such inspections involve a man basket with a 180-foot crane, which takes a lot of time and money to set up. With the UAS, Cyberhawk was able to inspect both domes in a week, with minimal site disruption. This generated direct cost savings of more than 300% for AEP as well as indirect cost savings through reduced site disruption. 

A detailed Hazard and Operability (HAZOP) in the project work up allowed the AEP and Cyberhawk team to overcome various operational challenges, including working around other scheduled projects.

“It’s important to remember that whilst drones can collect a huge volume of data, a high-quality engineering report is what makes all the difference,” Cyberhawk CEO Chris Fleming said. “This allows the client to easily assess the condition of the structure and plan any maintenance based on the data. For AEP, the final reports provided 100% visual coverage of the dome with exact sizing of defects and a 3-D model of the structure. This was delivered using our cloud based visual asset management system, iHawk, which we continue to develop as our capabilities and client base grows.”