Oil & Gas

Flying a UAV in 28kn+ for a safety critical inspection offshore



Following some significant storms in the North Sea in December, Sky-Futures received a call for the deployment of a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) inspection team for an emergency inspection offshore due to a damaged access hatch on a flare tower.

It was posing a risk of falling onto workers below due to the high winds and poor weather. A helicopter had tried to get imagery of the hatch but could not and due to safety there was no chance of a second attempt.


Within 24 hours the team was deployed and offshore, landing on the platform on Christmas Eve.

The winds were gusting above 65km/h (35 knots) and a severe weather pattern was holding within the UK North Sea. The team studied the forecasts and observed an upcoming weather lull that forecast the winds dropping to 51km/h (28 knots). This was above Sky-Futures standard operating procedures of 45 km/h (24 knots). The Remote Pilots studied the platform, potential flight paths and the wind, and spoke to the Offshore Installations Manager (OIM).

Following this, a revised risk assessment was generated onsite, approved by the client and by Sky-Futures head office, allowing the team to fly in above normal wind limits for the UAV.

The assessment under these conditions was critical, due to the hatch’s potential to cause injury, and in order for production to continue on the platform.


The imagery captured allowed the client to make the decision to keep all workers inside and shut production down. Workers were kept safe until a further lull in the weather allowed repairs to be made.

In a safety critical scenario the rapid response from Sky-Futures proved invaluable to keeping the platform and workers safe. This was all completed within 48 hours of the initial request despite the stormy UK North Sea weather conditions. 

Sky-Futures UAV inspection teams are ready to deploy at short notice globally.