Technology is constantly changing the evolution of the construction industry, whether it was the creation of Computer-Aided Design (“CAD”) which revolutionized the process of creating blueprints or the use of lasers to aid in the accuracy of foundation work. Now, it seems that drones, also referred to as unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”), are making their way into the industry.
The benefits of using drones for a contractor are seemingly endless. Surveying and obtaining aerial views of the job site and its progress could be improved and increased with the use of drones. They can also be used to monitor job site and work safety inspections. Drones could even provide views of areas which would otherwise be dangerous for a person alone to obtain.
However, with great benefits comes great risks. The use of drones could mean potential commercial general liability insurance issues, more permits, more possible risk of potential (new) violations, and possible injury to persons, property and utility lines.
For those who are interested in using UAS for commercial use, you must (1) petition and receive a grant of exemption under Section 333, (2) receive a certificate of waiver or authorization, (3) have the aircraft registered with the FAA and, (4) obtain a pilot with an FAA airman certificate to operate the UAS. Petitioning the FAA under Section 333 will provide an avenue to use UAS for commercial use prior to the finalization of the Small UAS rule, which will become the primary method for obtaining authorization.
Further detail for filing a petition under Section 333 can be found at https://www.faa.gov/uas/legislative_programs/section_333/how_to_file_a_petition/