Drone collects runway maintenance data at Edmonton airport

A drone was buzzing the Edmonton International Airport over the weekend, but this one was cleared for take off.

The drone, also known as a Remote Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS), was collecting photos and data of the airport’s more than two million square feet of runways, taxiways and aircraft handling aprons, said a news release from the Edmonton International Airport.

The remote technology is being incorporated into the airport’s safety inspections.

“RPAS technology is advancing quickly and is more and more useful to EIA,” Steve Maybee, the airport’s vice-president of operations and infrastructure, said in the release.

“We are fast approaching the point where drones are just part of the regular flight operations at EIA.”

The information gathered by the drone will be used in the airport’s annual assessment of its paved areas, in which it looks for pavement that is beginning to deteriorate.

The drone was operated by AERIUM Analytics, a Canadian provider of unmanned aircraft systems. Over the past four years, AERIUM and the Edmonton airport have used drones to accomplish other tasks, including robotic falcon flights as part of its bird control efforts, the release said.

According to the EIA, Edmonton is one of the only airports in Canada using the drone technology as part of its maintenance program. To date, AERIUM has conducted about 3,000 drone flights at the airport.

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