Altitude drone flights in the Andes Cordillera, Peru
Hélicéo carries out drone missions up to 5,000 m altitude
In February 2018, two members of the Hélicéo team go to Peru to accompany the GMI company in an altitude drone mission. For a week, Stéphane (Sales Manager America) and Olivier (Professional drone pilot and product engineer specialized in VTOL) tested two aircraft in the mountains of the Andes.
How to prepare a drone flight at altitude?
On their arrival, Stéphane and Olivier stayed in Lima in the Peruvian capital to prepare the entire mission. It is stand out on three days to test the devices at different levels. For safety reasons, it is important to proceed step by step to adapt the body to the altitude. For the FoxyPro, the tests are carried out at 1500 m the first day, at 2500 m the second day, and finally at 4000 m the last day. And for the SuperFox6, the first day takes place at 2500 m, the second at 4000 m and the last at 5000 m.
To prevent mountain sickness, the team opted for taking coca extract capsules 3 days before the mission. When you begin this type of climb, you must also think about monitoring your diet and drinking plenty of water.
On the other hand, it is essential to protect the devices against the cold risks. Above all, batteries should be stored in a place at room temperature. It is also necessary to anticipate the internet connection unavailability at altitude to avoid the mission cancellation. For this, it is recommended to pre-upload maps.
10h 4×4 in the mountains
To go at altitude, our team travels the winding roads of the Andes Cordillera aboard a 4×4 vehicle. Travel time is 7 to 10 hours a day. The higher you climb, the lower the temperatures. It is 25 ° C in Lima, 15 ° C to 3500 m, and near 0 ° C to 5000 m where Stéphane and Olivier found themselves in a snowstorm. Each evening, the Hélicéo team be staying at the Chez Victor hotel in San Mateo, a small village located in the central Cordillera at 3149 m altitude. This place is emblematic and well known to Peruvians and Westerners who visit this mountain because it is one of the only places where it is possible to sleep. According to Stéphane, the cold is even more intense during the night which doesn’t make sleep easier.
Flight conditions are difficult with wind gusts up to 57 km / h. The equipment must always be adapted to the air thickness which is less important. For this, propellers and drone engines are changed at each level. In addition, our pilot, Olivier, had to deal with the lack of oxygen and the stress of flying at such a high altitude. To fight against mountain sickness, there is an effective remedy: The Mate of coca (tea with coca leaves). For each level of altitude, between 3 and 5 flights of a duration of 5 to 20 minutes are made. Despite the difficulties related to weather and climate conditions, all tests are successful and provide good results in terms of photogrammetric data accuracy.
The Andes Mountains from the sky
FoxyPro flight demonstration at 4000 m altitude
The FoxyPro is a fully automatic aircraft drone equipped with a VTOL system. It has a long battery life of one hour and can scan up to 300 ha (741 acres) in a single flight.
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SuperFox6 flight demonstration at 5000 m altitude
The SuperFox6 is a versatile multirotor drone compatible with Photogrammetric system and LiDAR system. With 43 minutes autonomy, it offers great flight capabilities. In addition, its new engine power gives it 57 Km / h wind resistance and allows it to be used in extreme conditions.
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The high altitude drone and VTOL system advantages
In South America, 70% of the mines are located between 3500 and 4500 m above sea level. These are mainly copper mines. As a result, measurement professionals have significant geomatics needs in these mountainous areas. Therefore, the VTOL system is essential since it allows the drone to take off and land in hilly areas that are difficult to access. In addition, the altitude drone brings more safety to the operators, a real time saving, and a greater data precision.
In conclusion, this drone mission allowed Hélicéo to guarantee to its customers the good adaptation of its drones at altitude. Constantly innovating, it also gives it the opportunity to improve his machines and develop new products such as Fusion VTOL.