Life as a Drone Pilot

Introducing Taz
Martin Tazioli Drone Pilot jpg1
11 May 2022

At Cyberhawk we’ve performed over 100,000 commercial flights since 2008. What better way to celebrate than to pay tribute to one of our high-flyers?

Well, the pilot in question, he's not just a flyer of drones, he’s also a taker of pictures and a creator of ‘insanely good pizzas’ (his words, not ours).

His name is Martin Tazioli, but you can call him ‘Taz’. He may be young, but in drone pilot terms, he’s an elder statesman with some 450 flight hours to his name. That's the equivalent of working 9 - 5 a total of 56 days in a row! Beats being in the office, I suppose!

Like all pilots who make the grade at Cyberhawk, Taz started with drone-based inspections of overhead powerlines. This work is achieved with the assistance of one of our accomplished engineers, who help direct and navigate our pilots to key inspection points around the towers. Together, they capture high-quality imagery of critical infrastructure, with their feet firmly and safely on the ground.

Visual tower inspections can be performed using a combination of linesmen working at height and expensive aerial footage captured by helicopters. Drone technology has taken close visual inspection to new heights by capturing high-resolution imagery from unique angles, and often from an inaccessible section of infrastructure. 

Safety is our number one priority at Cyberhawk. Taz recounts how he became ingrained in a culture of safety from day one: “Flying safely is at the core of everything we do at Cyberhawk. We really pride ourselves on safety first, followed by quality and speed. We work with our customers to help them make faster and more informed decisions about maintenance priorities which can reduce risk”.

Powerline inspection Damaged Earthwire jpg

On the Horizon: Offshore Platform Inspection

It’s not just any drone pilot that gets to work on offshore inspection projects. Oil and gas platforms are by far the most challenging assets to inspect – and that makes Taz among the first port of call for these offshore projects.

Unpredictable weather windows and navigating the complex steel structures that support an offshore platform, not only create the obstacle course of a pilot’s nightmares, but the structure can sometimes affect the GPS capabilities of the drone.

That’s one of the reasons why we instil a zero-tolerance attitude to pilots who are unable to fly without GPS during our Gold Standard training process. At Cyberhawk we know to expect the unexpected – that means being able to fly when your GPS inevitably goes down. In Taz’s own words, he says: “It’s so difficult to fly in the splash zone and usually we encounter a different challenge which is unique to each platform. You really must remain vigilant and stay switched on at all times.”

Drone Inspection Splashzone jpg

Want to learn how Cyberhawk can support your offshore inspection requirements?

Download your free oil and gas capabilities overview pack now!

Travelling to places most people will never see

From oil tankers off the coast of Singapore to construction sites in the Qatari desert, there are not many environments that Taz hasn’t experienced on the job. Luckily for him, travelling is a passion of his because drone pilots will travel to places most people will likely never see.

Drone Pilot Singapore jpg

Despite travelling to amazing locations, the life of a drone pilot is hard work. Taz explained that there can be long days spent working in remote environments. Inspecting wind turbines or overhead powerlines located in isolated areas require provisions, supplies, replacement batteries and spare tyres for the Cyberjeep. Preparation is key and each environment poses different risks to assess.

Drone Pilot Qatar jpg

IHawk: Visual Intelligence Software

The drone data Taz collects is vital to Cyberhawk’s end-to-end inspection process. By combining visual data from drones, helicopters, and linesmen into our visual intelligence software, iHawk, the customer can determine the overall health status of an asset at an unprecedented level of detail.

iHawk is fundamental to pilots out on the job. “If I am going to a project that another team has completed previously, I can easily review their data and it gives me a much better understanding of the asset. It makes any handovers and pre-mobilisation meetings much easier too - showing rather than telling! It’s really helpful to gain a general understanding of the space and look at defects that were found last time around”.

iHawk is currently helping several UK & international power grid operators optimise and de-risk network management. Last year Cyberhawk inspected 30,000 transmission towers in California. The drone inspection work Taz undertakes on power grids, and offshore, can identify potential risks to safeguard people, assets, and the environment.

Well done to all our drone pilots! Now Taz, about that insanely good pizza..

Learn how Cyberhawk can deliver an end-to-end inspection, visual data collection and asset management solution for your power grid operations.

Download our free power grid capabilities brochure now!