What are commercial uses of drones in construction?

Are you a professional construction or home improvement contractor? Have you considered using a UAV or drone for your business? Companies are finding new uses everyday for unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.

If you are thinking about flying a drone for your construction business it is important to understand the FAA’s rules governing drone operations for business. These rules are known as Part 107 and are in effect as of August 29, 2016.

Commercial uses of UAV drones require the operator to have a remote pilot certificate. It is important to know if your drone is used for commercial or recreational purposes.

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Commercial uses of drones in construction and home improvement are considered:

  • Any use of the drone that contributes to the operations of the business.
  • Taking photos or images for use in the business even if the operation does not directly generate revenues for the company.
  • Operation of the drone to fulfill a contract for a project.

What are some examples of using drones in construction and home improvement?

  • Building component inspections including church steeples.
  • Taking images of finished projects for sales and marketing of the company.
  • Collecting information or data for estimating projects.
  • Conducting in-progress project analysis for large project sites.
  • Safety assessments for potential and ongoing construction projects.

If you intend on using your drone for any purpose that contributes to the operations of the company it is best to obtain the remote pilot certificate.

FAA sUAS Drone Registration

The FAA requires that all drones operating in the United States or its territories be registered through a national database. Click HERE to register your drone. All drones must be registered for commercial or recreational uses if the aircraft weighs between .55 lbs. and up to 55 lbs. Failure to register the drone can result in civil and criminal penalties.

Once you have been issued a drone registration number you must label your UAV conspicuously. The registration number must be affixed to the drone for identification. This may be done on the external skin of the drone. It may also be labeled inside a compartment on the aircraft but the compartment must be accessible without the use of tools.

Now that you have registered your drone what is the next step to be able to fly it for your business? In order to fly your company’s drone you need to hold a remote pilot certificate.

Acquiring the Remote Pilot Certificate for Commercial Drone Operations

An RPIC or remote pilot in command is someone who has passed the FAA aeronautical knowledge test and who holds a valid remote pilot certificate. In order to fly your construction company’s drone you will need to hold the certificate or have someone on your team who has this certificate.

What are the requirements for someone to become a Remote Pilot in Command?

  • The drone must be operated by a RPIC – remote pilot in command.
  • The drone operator must be hold a remote pilot certificate. Pilots must be a minimum of 16 years old in order to receive the certificate.
  • The pilot must be able to read, speak, write and understand English.
  • The pilot must be in good physical and mental condition to operate the UAS.
  • The pilot must pass the aeronautical knowledge exam to receive the remote pilot certificate.
  • The pilot must pass a recurrent knowledge test every two years in order to maintain their certificate.

It is highly recommended that you study for the aeronautical knowledge test before sitting for the test. UAV Coach offers an excellent online course providing education for those looking to acquire the RPIC certificate.

Explore the Drone Pilot Ground School from UAV Coach.

What’s the next step now that you have passed the FAA aeronautical knowledge test?

After you have passed the FAA aeronautical knowledge test the next step is to apply for your certificate. The steps are:

  • Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate. This is done through the IACRA system.
  • Register on the FAA IACRA system. Click HERE to create account.
  • Begin a new application.
  • You will be issued a 17 digit Knowledge Test Exam ID after passing the exam. This will be needed to register.
  • Sign the application electronically and submit.
  • The FAA will issue the a Remote Pilot Certificate once all background checks have been completed.

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Now What? You Have Your Remote Pilot Certificate.

There are a few housekeeping items that need to be addressed before you turn the propellers.

Contact Your Insurance Agent

Have you spoken with your insurance agent yet about coverage for your drone? There are a few areas of concern when looking at the risk of flying the drone.

First, you have paid a good deal of money for your equipment. Some drones are will over $1,000 in cost. You will want to make sure that you are covered for any type of equipment loss that may occur.

Second, don’t assume that you have coverage for property damage or other types of losses. What happens if you experience a fly away and break a window or hit a pedestrian? Make sure that you are covered before flying your drone for business.

Rules for Drone Flight for Construction and Home Improvement Businesses

Now that you have registered your drone and have the remote pilot certificate issued by the FAA you need to consider some of the rules for flying your drone. Here are basic rules for flying your construction company’s drone for commercial purposes. Keep in mind that this is a basic list. There are nuances to these rules which must be addressed on a case by case basis.

  • You must fly below 400 feet AGL.
  • If you are flying around a structure you are permitted to stay within 400 feet of the structure.
  • Speed of aircraft must be at below 100 mph.
  • You must maintain a visual line of site on the unit at all times.
  • If you are flying during civil twilight you must have anti-collision lights. Otherwise the aircraft may only be operated between sunrise and sunset.
  • The drone must yield the right of way to all manned aircraft.
  • The drone may not be flown over people or from a moving vehicle.

Keep in mind that deviations from these FAA standard rules may be permitted but you must request a CoW or Certificate of Waiver before operating outside of these rules.  Requests for a Certificate of Waiver must be submitted and approved prior to deviating from these and the other rules governing unmanned flight of a small Unmanned Aerial System.

Rapidly Changing Drone Technology in the Construction and Home Improvement Industries

Construction and home improvement companies have a tremendous opportunity to grow their businesses by deploying drones. The uses for drones will continue to grow and the technology evolves.

Learn more about potential applications for using drones in construction.

Are you using drones as part of your construction or home improvement business? Share your thoughts on different applications and uses for drones in construction in the comments section below. The more uses for this exciting technology the faster the technology will grow.

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