Carbonix Drones Achieve Australian First: BVLOS Power Line Inspections for SA Power Networks

rone manufacturer and solutions provider Carbonix has become the first Australian company to fly its drones Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLoS) completing a mission with SA Power Networks inspecting 150km of powerlines in remote South Australia. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approved BVLoS mission paves the way for Carbonix’s drones to efficiently and safely inspect South Australia’s vast electricity distribution network of more than 180,000 square kilometres.

Carbonix and SA Power Networks have been working together to radically advance the use of long-
range Un-Crewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in aerial inspection work on remote electricity distribution
network assets for the past 18 months.

Currently, inspections are done by conventional crewed aircraft (helicopters and light planes) or ground
crews and the operational and environmental benefits of replacing these with Carbonix drones would
see an up to 80% reduction in operating cost and up to 98% reduction in CO2 output while improving
safety and efficiency.

With drones more easily deployed than conventional aircraft, as well as accelerating asset inspection
cycles, their adoption would also improve response times to outages, fault finding, bushfire
preparedness, maintenance work and planning and documentation of line re-stringing. This would
support the reliability of electricity supply, particularly for the 30% of SA Power Networks customers
living in regional and remote areas of the state.

The milestone mission makes Carbonix’s Volanti the first Australian fixed-wing vertical take-off and
landing (VTOL) drone to execute a fully automated BVLoS flight, gathering commercially useful data for
a customer.

Carbonix CEO Philip van der Burg said it marks the dawn of commercialisation reality for the Australian
drone industry.

“This is such an exciting time for the drone industry and for the energy industry,” he said. “We’ve
addressed the risks and barriers, both regulatory and technical, and proven the capability. Long range
drone adoption means improved safety, faster response times and reduced carbon footprint for
companies like SA Power Networks. We’re thrilled to have partnered with them to achieve this
Australian first.”

Head of Corporate Affairs for SA Power Networks Paul Roberts said the business was focused on
innovation to continue to improve management of the network and drive efficiency benefits.
“We rely on aerial inspections to be able to meet inspection cycles. Our crews also drive about 20
million kilometres annually patrolling and maintaining our vast network. Being able to deploy over the
horizon drone patrols will drive greater efficiency in our asset management program and provide
genuine safety benefits for our people and community.”

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