Drone training has added to the staff expertise at the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.

There’s a new tool and new expertise in drone technology at the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives.

Following the association’s recent purchase of a Mavic Enterprise drone, five staffers participated in a training event in early March. Virginia-based Sentinel Robotic Solutions provided comprehensive classroom and hands-on instruction specific to the purchased drone and in preparation for the Federal Aviation Administration Unmanned Aerial Systems Part 107 exam. Training included three full days of classroom material, followed by one day of flying and a final day of practice exams.

Founded in 2012, SRS was established as an Unmanned Systems Consulting Partnership and has worked with U.S. military operations, NASA missions, unmanned systems manufacturing companies, and both private and government operations.

As a Gold Associate Member of VMDAEC, SRS is proud to be working with the association’s training center in Palmyra, Va. and its member electric cooperatives. “We look forward to continuing to support the association by increasing its fleet of vehicles and trained pilots,” said John Robinson, SRS chief operating officer.

Association staffers look forward to implementing drone technology in the field for training purposes, system inspections, public relations activities, and for a new perspective in digital versions of Cooperative Living magazine.

SRS Lead Flight Technician Jason Taylor explained: “Drones have become an everyday tool in the lineman’s toolbox. Flight training provides successful missions that result in improved visibility and safety for the linemen.”

“The training that was received has paid off!” said Ernie Young, retired director of operational and construction services for Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. “A problem on one of our line circuits was located using the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) and video that it recorded. Our new pilot was able to carry out the mission safely and successfully due to the training SRS provided.”

VMDAEC’s Phil Jarvis, Blaine Salmans, J.T. Jacobs, Gregg MacDonald and Jim Robertson are scheduled to take the FAA exam this month.