Bristow Group invests in drone business

Offshore staff

HOUSTONBristow Group Inc. has invested $4.2 million in Sky-Futures to enter the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) services business.

The investment, which also includes an exclusive partnership agreement, gives Bristow access to the company’s drone inspection operational expertise; data capturing and analysis technology; and training capabilities. Bristow will have one representative on Sky-Futures’ board.

Bristow Group President and CEO Jonathan Baliff said: “Through our partnership, we will collaborate with Sky-Futures and its leading safety culture, operational integration, and analysis technology to capitalize beyond the growing need for global UAV inspection services in oil and gas to other industries, including search and rescue.”

Sky-Futures conducts UAV inspections of live flare stacks, splash zones, decommissioning, general topsides work, and under deck, using HD video, still and thermal imagery. The data is analyzed, processed, and delivered through its technology platform.

In January, Sky-Futures completed its first drone inspection in the Gulf of Mexico, having obtained the 46th Section 333 Federal Aviation Authority Exemption Certificate to operate drones in the US.

Bristow said that inspections completed by professionally trained UAV remote pilots are safer, faster, and more cost-efficient than other inspection techniques, which are typically completed manually via rope access. UAV inspections on industrial infrastructure may be completed without disrupting production, eliminating the need for potentially unnecessary shutdowns.

Sky-Futures recently completed a drone inspection of two offshore flare tips for an unnamed major oil client which was estimated to have saved the client approximately $35 million by avoiding an unscheduled shutdown.


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