Westar Energy gets rule exemption to use 2 drones

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Westar Energy is set to deploy drones to help the electric company perform a variety of tasks like pinpointing storm damage and inspecting wind turbine blades. The Wichita Eagle reports that the utility obtained a rule exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration last week to begin using two remote-controlled aerial drones. The utility is awaiting final approval from the FAA.

Jason Klenklen, one of Westar’s two qualified drone pilots, says using the drones to do things like inspecting utility towers and lines is safer for all involved.

Westar plans to initially focus on using the drones for emergency line inspections because they can be deployed quickly, which helps restore power faster.

Westar has been working with Kansas State University since 2013 to develop its unmanned aerial program.

Information from The Witchita (Kan.) Eagle.

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