Drone Program FAQ

Drones provide three benefits to the agency’s field inspectors responding to emergencies.  First, drones enable Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) inspectors to access areas that are hard to reach in person.  These include remote sites, areas with difficult terrain, and bodies of water.  Second, drones allow RRC inspectors to conduct needed inspections of spills, leaks, and emergency situations from a safe distance.  Lastly, drones enable quicker agency response to spills, leaks, and other emergency situations.

The agency has eight drones.

The agency has six DJI Mavic 2 Dual Enterprise Edition drones and two Mavic 2 Enterprise Zoom drones. Each drone is operated using the DroneSense platform.

All RRC drone program pilots are RRC employees. As of May 2020, 19 RRC employees are certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as drone pilots.

RRC uses the drones for the purposes authorized within Chapter 423, Texas Government Code. Specifically, the agency uses drones at the scene of a spill, or suspected spill, of hazardous materials, in connection with oil pipeline safety, and, if other instances requiring response arise, with the consent of the owner or occupant of real property. The use of drones for these statutorily-authorized purposes enhances RRC’s ability to inspect for compliance with the agency’s Statewide Rules and the Code of Federal Regulations.