Drone technology is revolutionizing every industry. From farmers measuring the water content of their fields to Amazon package delivery, the applications are nearly limitless.
The construction field is no exception. Both large and small firms can benefit from a drone program that is efficient, cost-effective, and compliant with the law. If you’re considering using drones in your construction business, keep the following principles in mind.
1. What Do You Want To Accomplish?
Both large and small construction firms can benefit from drones. An established firm may use drones for an in-depth project (such as monitoring the movement of earth-moving equipment and linking that data with volumetric mapping). However, there’s also a place for drone technology in small firms. A simple application like aerial photography can be used in many ways. Some examples are for surveying land, assessing the designs of completed buildings, and creating videos for marketing.
2. Know The Law
New FAA rules for drones went into effect on August 9th, 2016. These rules loosened regulations for using drones for commercial purposes. Some of the FAA rules for construction firms to keep in mind include:
Pilots must have a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate and pass TSA vetting
Pilots must keep the aircraft in visual line-of-sight
Drones must be flown during the day, at an altitude of below 400 feet, and below 100 mph
Drones must NOT be flown over people or from a moving vehicle
This is not a comprehensive list. Keep in mind that FAA requirements aren’t the only ones that count. Some states and cities have passed regulations that are more restrictive. Failures to comply have resulted in penalties of as little as $400, up to a whopping $1.9 million.
3. What Insurance Do You Need?
In the United States, liability insurance is not required for drones used for commercial purposes. However, your firm might be required to carry liability insurance so that you can secure permits.
The amount that an operator pays for drone liability insurance can vary widely. Some factors that insurers consider are how many flying-hours the pilot has logged, and what type of licensing and training he or she has undergone.
There are other types of insurance to consider. Hull insurance covers the drone itself. Payload insurance covers cameras, sensors, or other equipment attached to the drone. These costs are another reason to draw up a comprehensive plan before starting a drone program.
4. Should You Go It Alone?
The challenge of navigating liability issues and local laws can be a big one. To solve this problem you might consider outsourcing your drone program to a third party. This solution takes the worry over compliance off the shoulders of the project manager. Third-party providers can also help with analyzing the data collected by drones.
5. Planning, Planning, Planning
The best way to keep costs low and productivity high is to decide in advance what you want to use drones for. How many operators are you going to put through FAA training? How many drones will you need for each project? What insurance plan will best protect you from the costs associated with accidents?
As with any other project that your company takes on, planning is key. Plan the full scope of your project and decide if drones are the best tool for meeting your goals. Don’t be afraid to outsource to experts if getting your drone project up and running would distract too much from your projects and your clients.
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