Winter is Coming: How TraceAir Provides Site Intelligence in the Toughest Conditions
There’s no place like Siberia to develop best practices for winter drone flight operations.
Winter poses unique challenges to our operations teams in any location, but TraceAir’s Russian operations teams endure some of the most difficult conditions: heavy winds, sub-zero temperatures, limited daylight, and unfavorable road conditions in places like the Arctic Circle, Siberia, and Far East Russia. It would seem that drone operations would cease during winter in these extreme locations, but TraceAir’s team is equipped to handle these challenges.
Extreme Cold and High Winds
Temperatures in Russia often drop to –40ºC. To combat the cold and icy conditions, we treat the wings of our drones with a de-icing agent similar to the method airlines use to allow flights in these temperatures. Our drone pilots have experience operating drones in windy conditions, often seeing wind gusts of over 30 miles per hour. Our operations team does their best to keep warm with protective gear and hot beverages, but even boiling water is no match for arctic temperatures.
TraceAir is currently providing drone flights on projects as far north as the Arctic circle, where days are short. Our operations teams are up against the clock to accomplish a whole day’s workload into a few hours. Their day begins at 5:00 in the morning where they travel to the project site and prepare quality control (QC) and ground control points (GCP) in the dark. These points can be covered in up to a meter of snow, so this process is time consuming and difficult without daylight. They await sunrise and accomplish their scans in the short 2–3 hour window of daylight before packing up and heading back to the project dormitories.
Some of TraceAir’s most remote projects are in locations where there is no or very limited road access. To reach these locations, our teams use special vehicles with off-road capabilities. The terrain is a wet tundra, where installing ground control points is often impossible, so for these instances, our pilots use QC points and PPK drones.
Winter? No problem.
TraceAir’s operations team has seen some of the toughest conditions, but that doesn’t stop us from providing our customers with up-to-date and high-quality data.