Drones used to clear runways

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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 as the airport continues to be a leader in the growing technology.

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 more accurately predict when to conduct preventative maintenance on runways, taxiways and aircraft handling aprons, enhancing safety.

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 has developed an end-to-end LiDAR solution combining a drone, a LiDAR payload, a fully integrated software workflow, and world class support to consistently provide quality deliverables.The mdLiDAR1000 is a fully integrated system for producing 3D point clouds optimized for land surveying, construction, oil & gas, and mining applications.

EIA has 2 million square feet of runways, taxiways and aircraft handling aprons to maintain. The nationally recognized 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 well over 3,000 safe airport flights. AERIUM drones conducted the first ever night airport flight at EIA and their RPAS effectively help airports control bird migration, conduct construction and maintenance surveys, and calibrate equipment as well as working with the energy and forestry industries.

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