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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Bristow Group Enters Unmanned Business

Bristow Group Inc. has invested $4.2 million in Sky-Futures, a leading provider of drone inspection data services for the oil and gas industry.

The investment gives Bristow entry to the fast-growing unmanned aircraft system services business. It includes an exclusive partnership agreement, the helicopter firm said, and gives Bristow access to Sky-Futures 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 Bailiff said his company will collaborate with Sky-Futures “to capitalize beyond the growing need” for global unmanned inspection services in oil and gas “to other industries, including search and rescue.”

Sky-Futures CEO and co-founder James Harrison, said the partnership “enables us to rapidly expand the operational delivery of drone-based inspection services in the global oil and gas market.” Formed in 2009, Sky-Futures said it operates in 16 countries and works with more than 30 oil and gas companies around the world, many of which are Bristow’s global clients.

In January, Sky-Futures said it had completed its first drone inspection in the Gulf of Mexico under an FAA Section 333 exemption.

Sky-Futures has a team of remote pilots, approved by the FAA and the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority, that performs drone inspections of live-flare stacks and splash zones as well as decommissioning, general topside and under-deck work using HD video, still and thermal imagery. The data is analyzed, processed and delivered through the Sky-Futures advanced technology platform.

In the past, such inspections have been done manually via rope access and other means. Advocates argue that drone inspections can be completed without disrupting production, eliminating costly shutdowns.

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