Strat Aero secures first UAV wind-turbine inspection contract

Strat Aero plc

Strat Aero has begun inspecting Westar’s 53 wind turbines with UAVs, and already exceeded expectations by covering eight turbines per day. The original contract was for six turbines per day.

Strat Aero plc, the AIM-quoted international aerospace company, has been awarded a wind-turbine inspection contract with Westar Energy, the largest electricity provider in the state of Kansas.

This is the Strat Aero’s first wind inspection and data analysis contract using its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and proprietary software. It represents a significant milestone in the company’s position as a full-service UAV provider to commercial, industrial, and military sectors.

Under the terms of the contract, Strat Aero will initially inspect 53 turbines in two of five fields operated by Westar at a rate of six turbines per day. The initial value of the contract is $26,000. But with 312 turbines onsite, the contract could extend to cover the remaining 259 turbines across Westar’s five fields, as well as to other turbines operated by the utility. 

The Directors view this initial contract with Westar as proof of concept, and intend to use it as a springboard to secure additional contracts with Westar and other major operators in the U.S. 

Work has already begun and the team has managed to inspect eight turbines per day so far using its UAVs. This is a quicker rate than expected, and covers far more turbines compared to the two per day that are typical of the conventional manually led techniques employed by operators. 

“This agreement follows an extended trial process and signals a breakthrough for Strat Aero into a significant and potentially lucrative market,” said Tony Dunleavy, CEO of Strat Aero. “The scope and scale of the wind-farm industry in the U.S. is enormous, and we are delighted to have embarked on this journey with Westar Energy — a preeminent figure in the market, generating over 7,000 MW of electricity and serving nearly 700,000 customers in much of east and east-central Kansas.” 

By enabling less downtime and potential production losses, Strat Aero’s UAVs provide major savings in terms of time and costs for turbine operators. In addition, the data gathered by the UAVs will be analyzed and stored using Strat Aero’s proprietary Digital Data Management software (DDM), which is available to the customer at any time.  

“This initial phase of our relationship, which will see the inspection of 53 turbines, has already commenced and once again, the efficiency and functionality of drones have been clearly demonstrated,” Dunleavy added. “With eight turbines being successfully inspected every day, a 33% increase on the amount originally envisaged, this increased performance will help enhance the financial efficiencies of the contract. It also places us in a strong position to roll out this service to cover Westar’s full portfolio of wind turbines across its five fields, in addition to providing a springboard into the larger wind-turbine drone inspection market, which Navigant Research estimated will reach $6 billion by 2024.”

Strat Aero plc

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