FAA approves BVLOS drones for US Refineries

  • January 26, 2022
  • William Payne

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the use of BVLOS drones for industrial inspections of oil refineries in Texas and Arkansas. Delek US Holdings becomes the first company to gain FAA approval for BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) inspections using drones, according to Israeli industrial robotics firm Percepto.

The BVLOS approval enables Delek US to operate its drones without a pilot to maintain line of sight with the drone. An operator located in the control room can easily manage and monitor pre-scheduled fully autonomous drone missions.

The Delek refineries are based in Tyler, Texas and El Dorado, Arkansas. The operational approval is one of a number received by Percepto customers, including Florida Power & Light, Verizon Skyward and at other industrial sites in Australia, Italy, Spain, Norway, Portugal and Israel.

Percepto drones are managed by Percepto’s Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring (AIM) platform. Recently upgraded to AIM 2022, to feature an OGI camera, capable of detecting gas emissions.

AIM 2022 provides AI-powered solutions for sector-specific use cases, including oil and gas plus other industries. Percepto’s platform is designed to provide a unified view of an entire facility. Through its change detection framework based on drone-collected data, the Tyler and El Dorado refineries leverage AIM and Air Max drones to maintain constantly available remote operations.

“This approval to use autonomous drone technology is a huge step forward towards cleaner and safer refineries within the oil and gas industry,” said Percepto CEO Dor Abuhasira. “Congratulations to Delek US for being pioneers in digital transformation, and implementing new procedures within an industry that has been seeking new solutions to old problems.”

“Percepto’s end-to-end system supports our environmental, social and governance goals to deliver safe and reliable autonomous drones that can be operated remotely while in compliance with US FAA regulations,” said Delek SVP, Business Transformation, Grigor Bambekov. “By working in partnership with Percepto, Delek US is gaining more effective, efficient, reliable, and profitable utilization of its assets through the next generation of Industry 4.0 drone ecosystems.”