Some of the bigger inspectors of solar PV solutions have started to use Manned aircraft to inspect solar PV. This blog covers why and how…
Why Inspect Solar Systems with Manned Aircraft
Manned aircraft can serve as a viable option for inspecting solar PV systems. Costs may be minimized using manned aircraft when inspecting solar farms nearby each other. Large solar farms are a suitable use case for manned aircraft. This can be useful where airspace restrictions prohibit drone operations. Certain environmental conditions such as high winds or high temperatures can also necessitate the use of manned planes as they are more equipped than drones to handle environmental extremes. Fixed or single-axis ground mount and roof-mounted solar arrays are ideal for manned aircraft solar inspection. This is largely due to the consistent angle at which an entire solar array is oriented, making it easy to adjust the gimbal pitch to avoid glare. Conversely, manned aircraft solar inspections are not compatible with solar arrays mounted on dual-axis trackers. Dual-axis trackers can rotate to better track the sun throughout the day on its X-axis as well as on its Y-axis. The variation of tracker angles when inspecting this type of array make it difficult to identify whether elevated heat signatures are caused by electrical defects or increased glare.
Where to Find Aircraft & Operators
It’s common practice for manned aircraft solutions providers in the solar industry to use rented aircraft. Charter or inspection companies are a great way to find pilots and aircraft. Certified flight instructors (CFIs) at flight schools are also good resources. CFIs are already experienced in the aircraft and flight schools have posted rates for students and others who have “soloed” and are eligible to rent the aircraft. Charter companies, inspection companies and flight schools are located nationwide, so it’s only necessary to move people and equipment. A directory of flight schools and flying clubs can be found on the FAA website. When renting an aircraft, ensure that you are asking for the “wet” rate, which includes all operating costs, including fuel. Aircraft rentals may require a minimum rental of 4-8 hours.
But here at MTG,
we’re operating a little closer to the ground, if you need solar repairs, give us a call on 0115 888 2777