Unmanned systems are now part of the response capabilities available in the event of an oil spill, after Oil Spill Response Ltd (OSRL) signed agreements with thirdparty UAV providers Bristow Aerial Solutions, Sky-Futures and Vertical Horizon Media.
The UK-based OSRL is the world’s largest international spill response organisation. The new agreements make UAVs available as reconnaissance/surveillance tools for OSRL members, with the intention to provide better response capabilities. An OSRL spokesperson told AIR International: “UAVs can be utilised to identify the thicker patches of oil offshore and to support offshore containment and recovery operations and vessel dispersant application.”
OSRL offers an aerial dispersant capability with two Boeing 727s operated by T2 Aviation at Doncaster Sheffield Airport, the former RAF Finningley. The spokesperson emphasised UAVs will not be used to direct aerial spraying, but said they could assist in monitoring dispersant effectiveness.
OSRL said each of the three companies that will provide the UAV services was selected based on their relevant in-country experience, technical capabilities or geographical reach, “and will ensure OSRL members have the most appropriate and effective solution to the specific challenge in hand”. The agreements mean a range of unmanned systems equipped with HD visual and infrared sensors can be called upon, including the Intel Falcon 8, DJI’s Matrice M200, Matrice 210 RTK and Inspire 2 and Flyability Elios.
The unmanned service will have pre-agreed rates, defined mobilisation procedures and a standardised approach to managing response activities. It is mobilised through the OSRL duty manager and is subject to flight permissions and the meeting of regulatory requirements.