Heads Up! Drones Are Inbound

The Proper Use Of Unmanned Aircraft Systems At Construction Sites

Oliver Olinger, Writer
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The future is now! What once occupied the realm of science fiction is now a very real and useful tool that can be picked up for a small sum of money at a toy or hobby shop.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), better known as drones, are flying robots that can be controlled via their onboard computer or through a number of other systems, including GPS, Wi-Fi and motion sensors.

The commercial use of drones has increased substantially over the past decade. Initially used almost exclusively by the military, drones now survey traffic, weather and construction sites.

There are several ways in which drones benefit the construction industry in general, and roofers in particular. Most of these uses require that a high-definition video camera be mounted on the drone.

The customer will likely never actually set foot upon their own roof to inspect the contractor’s work. Drones make it possible for customers to get an up-close, in-person view of every corner of their roof before, during and after the project is completed.

Professional surveyors can also use drones to cover more area, faster, in a highly accurate manner. Drones can be outfitted with equipment or programs that essentially automate many of the tasks surveyors were once expected to accomplish manually.

Supervisors at construction sites can use drones to monitor their workers, ensuring that employees are adhering to company policies. Some construction zones are very large and it is difficult or impossible for the supervisor to be everywhere at once. Drones make it easier to monitor large roofing projects efficiently.

As convenient and helpful as all of these drone uses may sound, it is important that roofing contractors be made aware of new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules regarding UAS.

If you are going to use a drone for any commercial application including construction sites, you must now either hire an officially certified “Remote Pilot in Command” or become certified yourself.

The proliferation of commercial drone usage has forced the FAA to regulate drone activity before it gets out of control and poses a threat to safety. For example, drones must not leave the pilot’s visual line-of-sight. They must weight less than 55 pounds. They cannot be used in the evenings. And they can’t fly over people’s heads who are not participating in the activity surrounding the use of the drone (this last one highlights just how important a certified drone pilot is).

Official FAA Rules

For detailed information on UAS rules and guidelines, along with information on how to obtain a Remote Pilot in Command certification, visit the FAA’s UAS page.