MODENA – For the first time in Italy a drone flew up to five kilometers away from the pilot, therefore well beyond his sight, thanks to a specific authorization (based on the European scenario Pdra-G02 applied to a particular context). The overflight in question is called Bvlos (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) and the unique authorization of its kind, registered by Enac, the National Civil Aviation Authority, was issued in Inrete, the company of the Hera group that manages the distribution of natural gas and electricity in the areas served in Emilia-Romagna. The purpose of the whole operation was to inspect the proper functioning of the city’s power lines, aimed at avoiding power outages. In this way, among other things, it is possible to ‘save’ both on interventions through tree pruning and on the use of helicopters, the current consolidated methods of inspecting the electricity network.
At stake, confirm from the Hera group, there is therefore an authorization valid for large areas with similar types and not only for some limited areas, useful for inspecting with drones the over 1,500 kilometers of medium voltage power lines installed mostly in the province of Modena and in the Imola area, on land ranging from the plains to the mountains, thus including all possible operational difficulties. The flight modalities adopted, in particular, generally provide for an altitude of 40-50 meters above the ground, respecting the safety criteria both for the overflown population and for other aircraft. “And full compliance with the privacy conditions is always guaranteed”, Inrete point out.


Currently, inspections to verify the health of power lines and interference between vegetation and trees require pruning and are carried out mainly by operators on foot, traveling the line from the ground with viewers and binoculars or, since 2015, flying over the nets with helicopters. In this way it is possible to visually detect any anomalies in the systems, to plan preventive maintenance interventions and thus avoid possible electrical interruptions due to plant subsidence or obstructions on the line. Through the tests carried out by Inrete in the Modena area, which were successfully completed in recent days, the technical possibility of integrating the “Bvolos” drones to the ‘old’ procedures was therefore confirmed, maintaining and possibly improving the level of direct analysis and the accuracy of the data collected. “This way of operating, in fact, allows remote operations – Inrete remarks – well beyond the 500 meter threshold of traditional visual flight already experienced in the past by Inrete, while maintaining visibility on the display and the possibility of intervention by the pilot. , thus making the possibilities of using drones wider ”.
To get the result, a team has been created with internal technological skills and different experiences: in addition to Inrete, Microgeo, which provided the drone and the technological assistance on all the preliminary tests and during the flight, North West Service, for the support to the authorization process, the planning of the missions and the assistance to the flight, Visimind, with the analysis and interpretation of the acquired data and Telespazio / e-Geos, for preliminary cartographic analyzes and risk analyzes.

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Anti-blackout drone unique in Italy flies over Emilia-Romagna