Chevron Pipe Line Company and American Aerospace Technologies to Fly Unmanned Aircraft in San Joaquin Valley

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Chevron Pipe Line Company (CPL), a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, and American Aerospace Technologies, Inc. (AATI) received a first-of-its-kind waiver from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct unmanned aircraft surveillance in the San Joaquin Valley. The AiRanger Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) was designed by AATI, a leader in intelligent airborne sensing and surveillance services for energy and other critical infrastructure, to support Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) aerial surveillance for Chevron’s pipeline and production facilities.

The Detect and Avoid (DAA) system’s capabilities were demonstrated during flight operations in Buttonwillow, California, in October 2023. Following the demonstration and FAA observed testing, the Agency issued a 91.113 Waiver and granted a 44807 Exemption (“Waiver and Exemption”). The Waiver and Exemption authorizes AATI to utilize the onboard detect and avoid system to comply with aircraft right of way rules when operating BVLOS. The AiRanger is the first UAS to demonstrate compliance with industry consensus standards for the DAA system and reach this milestone.

“CPL and AATI have been on a journey since 2019 to develop an aerial patrol solution with technology that advances safe, reliable, and cost-effective routine facility inspections and pipeline system surveillance,” said Stephanie Beveridge, president of CPL. “Through collaboration with the FAA, we are working to do just that in the San Joaquin Valley.”

The AiRanger UAS is a fixed-wing, unmanned aircraft system capable of long-range operations beyond visual line of sight. The aircraft weighs 220 pounds with a wingspan of about 18 feet and can fly over 700 miles and up to 17 hours at up to 17,000 feet.

“For the first time, an unmanned aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds that flies above 400 feet and beyond visual line of sight has been approved for commercial operations in the U.S. This initial Waiver and Exemption spans over 4,000 square miles at up to 8,000 feet MSL, opening a new era in unmanned aviation in the National Airspace System,” said David Yoel, CEO of American Aerospace Technology, Inc. “The AiRanger is a new type of platform due to its large scale and the range of operations it enables. Its intelligent sensors and real-time communications deliver actionable data at a scale that was previously unimaginable. With safety as our guiding principle, we look forward to expanding AiRanger operations across the country.”

“CPL operates approximately 3,000 miles of regulated pipelines nationwide. The AiRanger UAS beyond visual line of sight operations will help transform routine oil and gas pipeline surveillance and inspections required by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) using automated intelligence solutions,” said Roy Martinez, project manager for the UAS initiative and digital advisor for operations in CPL. “CPL’s coordinated efforts with the FAA and AATI to deploy this program is just one example of how Chevron continues to work with federal agencies to explore and implement emerging technologies to further Chevron’s purpose of developing the affordable, reliable, ever-cleaner energy that enables human progress.”

CPL and AATI have been supported by End State Solutions, LLC, to build collaborative solutions with key regulatory agencies that enable safe operations for emerging technology and new uses for autonomous aerospace technology.

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