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Remotely Piloted Aircraft Measuring Sulphur Emissions From Shipping

21st September 2021
A CAMCOPTER® S100 - the aircraft can take off and land vertically from an area less than 25 square metres and has a flight endurance of over six hours and a range of more than 100 km.
A CAMCOPTER® S100 - the aircraft can take off and land vertically from an area less than 25 square metres and has a flight endurance of over six hours and a range of more than 100 km.

The EU is using remotely piloted aircraft to monitor sulphur emissions released by ships transiting one of the world's busiest shipping lanes through the Straits of Gibraltar.

Some 27 ships of a total of 294 inspected since July 12th were found to be in "possible breach" of sulphur content limits in their fuel, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) says.

The agency, based in Lisbon, Portugal, is working with the Spanish general directorate of merchant marine on the monitoring project, which is designed to test the effectiveness of drones in measuring pollutant emissions from shipping.

Two flights have been conducted daily from a base in Tarifa since July 12th, and will continued until the end of October.

The current sulphur oxide limit in ship fuels is 0.50 per cent by mass under the International Convention on Maritime Pollution (MARPOL – Annex VI).

The aircraft used is a CAMCOPTER® S100 and is under contract to the European Maritime Safety Agency from the Nordic Unmanned, Norce and UMS Skeldar consortium.

The aircraft can take off and land vertically from an area less than 25 square metres and has a flight endurance of over six hours and a range of more than 100 km.

It is equipped with gas sensors and cameras to help detect the gases generated by fuel combustion and expelled through ship funnels.

EMSA says that remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) services are offered free to all EU member states.

It says they have been developed to assist in maritime surveillance operations and ship emission monitoring throughout the EU, and can "provide support to traditional coast guard functions, including search and rescue and pollution prevention and response".

"The services are offered to member states individually and as part of EMSA’s regional RPAS strategy, which allows multiple coast guard functions in several EU member states to be supported by one or more RPAS services,"it says.

It says further regional expansion of RPAS is planned this year and in 2022.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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