Filed Under:Agent Broker, Commercial Business

FAA grants two more approvals for UAV inspections

Drone technology is changing investigation opportunities for a host of industries. Photo: Robert Mandel/Shutterstock
Drone technology is changing investigation opportunities for a host of industries. Photo: Robert Mandel/Shutterstock

Two more firms have joined a handful of insurance carriers and received approval to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) commonly called drones for the aerial inspection of structures.

[Related: It’s ok to call it a drone]

Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc. received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use drones for aerial inspections and surveys of structures and facilities. The technology is particularly helpful for projects involving steep-sloped roofs, towers, and bridges, and can also be used for accidents or catastrophic events. Their DJI Phantom2 Vision + weighs only three pounds and provides high-resolution images with a 14 megapixel camera.

Donan, a forensic investigation firm, will be using the technology to assist the insurance industry with claim inspections. The exemption is for the fixed-wing Sensefly eBee UAV, which allows for fully autonomous operation and has a 12.1 megapixel camera.

“Innovation has always been a hallmark of our company and we’re ready to lead the way in applying the powerful benefits of drone technology to claims handling. We’ve been researching and testing drones for years now and the FAA’s authorization positions us to utilize the expertise we’ve gained to serve our clients and the industry in some very impactful ways,” said Lyle Donan, president & CEO of Donan.

A recent study, Drones for Disaster Response and Relief Operations conducted by Measure in conjunction with the American Red Cross, highlighted ways that drones could be used for disaster recovery to help expedite the recovery process. The images and information captured by drones can help mitigate losses, shorten recovery time and aid in the distribution of resources for communities.

[Related: Disaster recovery drones:  Here are 8 steps regulators should take right now]

“To say that this technology is changing the face of our industry and bringing added value to our clients is an understatement,” said Curtis Brown, president and CEO of Rimkus Consulting Group. “We can now obtain better, more-timely evidence in challenging locations with less risk and expense.”

Donan has a second request pending with the FAA that would allow the company to use its fleet of quadcopters, which are more maneuverable, can hover in place and get closer to surfaces, making them more ideal for single property inspections.

“Various UAVs are specialized for certain applications, whether it’s inspecting damage to a roof or gathering thermal imaging to study a building envelope,” explained Matthew Kenney, P.E., CFEI, Donan’s technical program manager.  Additional differences like flight time capabilities, collision avoidance features, and camera and payload configurations can also affect their application.

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