An initiative started at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative prior to the pandemic has resulted in nearly 70 trained and/or soon-to-be unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) operators. Thanks to training provided by Sentinel Robotic Solutions, REC personnel in the Substation, Vegetation Management, Operations and Construction, and other departments can more efficiently complete tasks in the field.

Most recently, SRS Director of UAS Programs Jason Taylor led approximately 40 REC employees through two five-day training sessions in the FAA Part 107 courses. The FAA has a strict set of guidelines regarding the rules and regulations for safely operating drones.

“Technology is advancing daily,” said Taylor. “Rules are changing daily to allow better integration of drones in national airspace.”

“Looking into the future, REC is excited to utilize these UAV functions for damage assessments after storms impact our service territory,” said Arthur Wholey, REC director of operational and construction services. “REC is looking at innovative methods to provide a seamless transition of outage data from our field crews to our System Operations Center. This will assist us in pole replacements, challenging restoration events that may require a track machine or boat, or other unique circumstances that may arise.” 

Wholey described the training as professional, informative and great preparation for REC employees to confidently take the FAA Part 107 exam. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with SRS in the future, whether it’s training new pilots or providing advanced UAV operations training,” said Wholey.

“Sentinel Robotic Solutions prides itself in providing exceptional industry training. We value our relationship with REC and look forward to continuing this journey with training services and hardware in the future,” said cofounder and CEO Erika Bale.

– Report by Jim Robertson, Director of Marketing & Brand Management, VMDAEC.