NYSEG/RG&E Transition NYSEARCH’s Drone Gas Asset Inspection Program to Commercial Use

Illustration of sUAS ROW Asset Inspection performed in upstate NY.

Illustration – Overview and Closeup drone views of inspection of Pipe Crossing.

In 2018, NYSEARCH completed several years of evaluation of use of small Unmanned Aerial Surveillance (sUAS) platforms (drones) for routine and emergency gas pipeline and asset inspections. This program evolved with member use and evaluation of various platforms, service providers and focused on FAA regulatory compliance. Data for this project was obtained from NYSEARCH-lead tests at RG&E, NYSEG, National Fuel Gas, BG&E, SoCal Gas, and PG&E. From these results, the project manager, Joe Mallia and NYSEARCH representative from NYSEG/RG&E, Carrie Berard, worked with NYSEG/RG&E operators and their local service provider, On-the-Mark (OTM) to transition this valuable set of lessons learned into a commercial gas asset inspection program.

Using drone flight protocols and developed during the NYSEARCH project, the areas where NYSEG and RG&E have considered commercial use include: 1) Right-of-Way (ROW) management, 2) Emergency response and planning, 3) Infrastructure inspection, and, 4) Leak Survey. NYSEG and RG&E’s implementation of these applications are taking advantage of the sUAS platforms, FAA-compliant protocols (FAA Part 107) and a range of sensors that have been tested in the NYSEARCH project. As a result, OTM is currently working with RG&E and NYSEG on planning several drone inspections.


For over thirty years, NYSEARCH has worked as a consortium of natural gas Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) who have a common interest and need for research and technology development and demonstration. Today, as part of the Northeast Gas Association (NGA), NYSEARCH manages over (30) projects in various stages of development for LDCs, transmission companies, federal agencies and their manufacturing and commercial partners. NYSEARCH is located in Parsippany, NJ and NGA is headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts.