Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment UAV/Drone Program: Dan Pearson (Chief Information Officer) Arkansas Environmental Federation Webinar Presentation

Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

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Mr. Dan Pearson of the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment (“ADEE”) undertook a presentation on May 15th as part of the Arkansas Environmental Federation Land & Sustainability Webinar Series addressing:

Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment UAV/Drone Program (“Presentation”)

Mr. Pearson serves as ADEE’s UAV Program Manager.

A number of state environmental agencies and environmental service organizations utilize unmanned aerial systems (“UAV” [i.e., “drones”]) for various purposes. For example, a February 2021 Environmental Council of the States (“ECOS”) report notes that state environmental agencies have used drones to undertake activities such as:

  • Surveillance
  • Enforcement
  • Permit support documentation
  • Waste and landfill inspections
  • Illegal dumping of chemicals, oils, or waste tires
  • General emergency response functions including facility discharges, train derailments, truck accidents, and oil spills
  • Investigation of unusual events

The ECOS report notes that agencies use drones because of their ability to:

  • Quickly obtain data
  • Provide more effective response to emergencies
  • Ensure worker safety
  • Improve environmental results

ADEE is one of the state environmental/energy agencies utilizing drones.

Mr. Pearson’s Presentation addressed topics such as the startup of the ADEE program. Key personnel in the drone program are identified as:

  • Direction and Management
    • Lawrence Bengal – ADEE Chief Technical Officer/Oil and Gas Commission Director
    • Dan Pearson – ADEE Chief Information Officer/Private Pilot
  • Original RPICs and VOs
    • Jeremy Ramsey – Oil and Gas Commission technician
    • Chris Krou – DEQ Hazardous Waste Branch Manager
    • Brian Kehner – AGS GIS Technician

Training and Procedure Establishment is described as:

  • 10 Days On-Site with Flight Safety Systems (Including Build Documentation and Procedures)

Documentation is described as including:

  • Policy
  • Mission Request
  • Mission Checklist
  • Flight Log
  • Flight Checklist
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Pilot Application

The Presentation lists risk management tools as:

  • Weather
  • UAV Forecast
  • sUAS-FRAT
  • AIRMAP

Mr. Pearson notes that the first UAV purchased included a DJI Phantom 4 Pro whose abilities include:

  • Photogrammetry
  • Video
  • Photo

The criteria for selection is stated to include:

  • Familiar to RPICs, similarity to training aircraft
  • Very solid, capable and stabile aircraft
  • Technology support of the initial mission requirements

The Phantom 4 Pro Missions are stated to have included:

  • Algae bloom
  • Mining Survey
  • Landslide

An additional drone purchased is referenced as an Autel EVO II. Characteristics of this drone include:

  • Go Command
  • Photogrammetry
  • Video
  • Photo
  • Thermal

Mr. Pearson noted:

. . . As the emerging technology of small unmanned aircraft solutions continues to build and grow, the E&E UATS team will continue to expand knowledge and professional skills.

Challenges identified during the Presentation include:

  • Current and proficient with the air craft and the data processing tools
  • New and improved air craft and towable data collection technology
  • New FAA regulations and requirements
  • Mission requirements will guide the program into new technology

A copy of Mr. Pearson’s slides can be downloaded here.

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Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.
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