Westar increases use of drones in Kansas

FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2014, file photo, a drone is demonstrated in Brigham City, Utah. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, that owners of many small drones and model airplanes will have to register them with the government, in response to increasing reports of drones flying near manned aircraft and airports. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Westar Energy says the increasing use of drones is helping it work faster, save money and improve safety for its employees.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the company sends drones to inspect equipment, navigate remote areas and manage some emergency situations.

The state’s largest utility worked with Kansas State University’s Polytechnic Campus to offer an unmanned aircraft systems program and now has one of the nation’s largest enclosed drone flight facilities on the Salina campus.

Westar recently began deploying drones commercially.

Jason Klenklen, supervisor of transmission maintenance, says the drones currently are used primarily in rural areas to inspect transmission lines. Drones also will be used to inspect boilers, which will allow employees to see the inside of boilers while being able to stay outside.