Drones are no longer a birthday present for a teenager with a knack for technology. Electric utilities like Cherryland see drone technology as another tool in the reliability tool chest.
Cherryland has always led the way in reliability and technology. In 2018, we continued to lead with start of the co-op’s drone program. Through training offered by Northwestern Michigan College, a handful of engineers, lineworkers, and operations staff became licensed drone pilots. Using drones offers the co-op efficient and cost-effective ways to improve outage response, as well as infrastructure and right-of-way maintenance.
Cherryland’s drone pilots are trained through Northwestern Michigan College’s (NMC) Unmanned Aerial Systems program.
To fly a drone, every co-op pilot must be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Each co-op drone is registered with the FAA. They are also marked with a FAA registration number on their exterior.
Co-op pilots must maintain visual line-of-sight while flying. They can only fly during the day and when there is at least three nautical miles of visibility.
A pilot must avoid flying a drone higher than 400 feet, within 500 feet of clouds, and in controlled airspace (i.e. airports).
If a pilot wants to fly over people, they must get their permission first. The drones must also weigh less than 55 lbs.