Westar Energy was granted a Section 333 Exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration. The exemption grants the company authority to conduct commercial operations via unmanned aircraft systems (UAS - also referred to as drones) in approved airspace. Westar plans to use UAS to capture still images, video and other data to be used for inspection of utility infrastructure. This allows employees to conduct inspections without being in proximity to high-voltage equipment or to the hazards of working heights. It will also facilitate the safe inspection of hard-to-access or environmentally sensitive areas without the use of bucket trucks, helicopter or other utility vehicles.
“The ability to use unmanned aircraft will increase reliability for our customers and make our workplace even safer,” Bruce Akin, senior vice president, power delivery. “As this technology continues to develop, there will be more opportunities to use this technology to respond to storms and other business applications.”
The exemption was granted Jan. 14, 2016.