Drone Aerial Tower Inspection 1

The Summer of Drones is Here

We just came across a great article this week that we thought was so good, we’d share. It was written by Matt McFarland on CNN Tech.  To read the article in its entirety, click here.

The Federal Aviation Administration released rules for the commercial use of drones on Tuesday, which will allow the nascent industry to fully emerge in August. The long-awaited rules will allow businesses to legally use drones under 55 pounds for purposes such as monitoring crops and construction sites, finding missing persons, inspecting infrastructure and filming movies.

The new rules require drone operators to fly within their line of sight and no faster than 100 mph. Drone pilots may not fly over anyone not directly participating in the operation. Evening flights are not allowed, except during twilight with anti-collision lighting.

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The rules will be especially empowering for businesses that need to inspect towers and antennas, a notoriously dangerous job. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there were 13 deaths on communication tower sites in 2014, despite fewer than 15,000 workers.

While the new rules require drones to fly no higher than 400 feet, there is an exception when operating near a structure, such as a building, cell tower or antenna. Because airplane pilots already give tall structures a wide berth, there isn’t a risk of the high-flying drones endangering planes. There is no cap on a drone’s height if it’s operating within 400 feet of a structure.

With drones legally flying high, businesses won’t need to put humans in harm’s way as often to complete their inspections.

“We do believe there’s inherent safety value in the use of drones,” said Todd Schlekeway, the executive director of the National Association of Tower Erectors. “Anything we can do to mitigate that risk is of tremendous importance.”

He said drones could eliminate 30% of the climbs that tower technicians make to maintain the country’s communications infrastructure.

Credit/Author:  Matt McFarland for CNN Tech

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