This communication exposes the main requirements of line inspection based on UAV that are considered as a component of a system that includes aerial, land and organisational support segments and follows in the sequence of other 2007, 2011 and 2015 by the same team.
The first step is the objectives definition and operation concept. The most common aircraft are introduced: rotating wing, with emphasis on the multirotor that offers great flexibility of configurations, more affordable costs and a proximity operation with large load capacity and a fixed wing that gives greater autonomy and greater stability, lowest payload ratio/ full load. Opportunities to do different and better than helicopters as well as some restrictions and constraints on unmanned operation will be discussed.
Then, it is necessary to define the plausible and prudent operating envelope according to the environment which involves climate, meteorology, land use, regulation, protection of wildlife, etc.
The team and the ground station are fundamental elements to the safety and efficiency of the operation. In the case of rotating wing inspection, the ground crew is close to the UAV and for this reason, it is the pace of progress of the ground crew that determines the overall efficiency of the inspection. On the other hand, fixed-wing operation beyond the line of sight, the efficiency depends more on the aircraft and the environmental contingency. The design of a mobile and efficient ground station that allows to transport the UAV between acquisition points, to operate it remotely and to transport the team is a critical element of success.
The need for secure integration of UAVs in airspace poses challenges for national aeronautical authorities , that define safety and security criteria validated by risk assessment methods based on the elements of the system: aircraft, mission, team, meteorology, territory .
Knowing the main areas to be covered in the design and implementation of the UAV inspection, the fundamentals for a performance and efficiency analysis are compared with the helicopters (and other vectors) which serves as validation for the objectives for the introduction of UAVs.