A different kind of aircraft landed at Edmonton International Airport this past weekend as a highly specialized drone was used to conduct runway safety inspections.
On Sunday, AERIUM Analytics, on behalf of EIA, flew a Microdrones mdLiDAR1000 to collect Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) and imagery data of EIA’s runways. The data collected will be used to predict when to conduct preventative maintenance on runways, taxiways and aircraft handling aprons. The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS or drone) operation was approved by Edmonton Airports in collaboration with Nav Canada and is part of the ongoing AERIUM RPAS operations at EIA, which is one of the only airports in Canada using this technology.
Microdrones’ LiDAR solution combines a drone, a LiDAR payload, a fully integrated software workflow, and support to provide deliverables. The mdLiDAR1000 is designed to be a fully integrated system for producing 3D point clouds optimized for land surveying, construction, oil & gas, and mining applications.
“RPAS technology is advancing quickly and is more and more useful to EIA,” says Steve Maybee, EIA VP of Operations and Infrastructure. “Thanks to the hard work of our Operations team and our partners in Nav Canada and AERIUM Analytics, our airport is a leader in this field, and we are fast approaching the point where drones are just part of the regular flight operations at EIA.”
EIA has 2 million square feet of runways, taxiways and aircraft handling aprons to maintain. The EIA maintenance program requires annual pavement inspections.
This is the fourth year that AERIUM Analytics has operated RPAS at EIA, beginning with Robird robotic falcon flights to control bird activity. So far AERIUM has conducted over 3,000 airport flights. AERIUM drones conducted a night airport flight at EIA and their RPAS is designed to help airports control bird migration, conduct construction and maintenance surveys, and calibrate equipment as well as working with the energy and forestry industries.
“We are honored to be able to work with Edmonton International Airport on groundbreaking projects in the RPAS industry in Canada. Yesterday’s flights are the result of months of planning and would not have been possible without the support we received from the airport and coordination with NAV Canada. We are looking forward to reviewing the data collected to aid the airport in future runway maintenance and infrastructure development,” says Jordan Cicoria, VP of Operations at AERIUM Analytics.