Bristow S-92A. Photo courtesy of Bristow
Bristow Group and its unmanned aerial system (UAS) affiliate, Sky-Futures, are one step closer to providing customers with services that use both a manned helicopter and a drone. During a 20-minute exercise in Galliano, Louisiana, a Bristow Sikorsky S-92 and a Sky-Futures drone flew in the same airspace, Bristow said.
During the test, the S-92 hovered 500 feet above ground, while the drone flew toward the helicopter. The drone maintained a horizontal distance 200 feet away. In 100-foot increments, the drone ascended to an altitude of 400 feet agl. S-92 pilots monitored the drone’s position and altitude on an iPad during the entire flight. They did not have actual visual contact with the drone.
“The successful execution of this interoperability test is an excellent step forward to demonstrate that helicopters and UAVs can operate safely as a complementary service, providing additional opportunities for Bristow and Sky-Futures to jointly offer a higher level of situational awareness for our aircrews, and safe, new and innovative services to commercial and government clients,” said Bristow Group President and CEO Jonathan Baliff.
Through Sky-Futures, Bristow offers inspections via drone. All Sky-Futures drones are equipped with ADS-B when operating offshore.