Construction drones skyrocket with new FAA policy

This past Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration unveiled a new rulebook that allows for the use of drones for commercial purposes. The policy is designed to ensure these remote-controlled aircraft can safely share the skis with commercial and passenger planes. Drones have increasingly become a game changing technology in the construction industry by enabling an easier way to track progress and conduct site surveys.

Small Construction Companies Leading the Fleet

During the 2015 holiday season, an estimated 700,000 to 1 million drones were sold. Not all of these drone sales were to hobbyists. In fact, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) released a study that found that construction drone use makes up 40% of all FAA exemptions prior to the new regulations being released.

And if you’re thinking drones are only being used by massive construction companies, think again – a analysis of the AUVSI data found that nearly every construction exemption went to small construction companies with less that $1M in revenue and fewer than 10 employees.

In fact, results from a recent NAHB survey of single-family builders show that 66% are aware drones have been used on construction sites and 22% have already used a drone in their own construction business!

Cliffs Notes on FAA’s New Policy

The FAA released a 624-page rulebook on the new commercial drone policy. It includes parameters around drone weight (up to 55 pounds) and flight time (daylight hours only), and how high they can fly (400 feet in the air, or higher if within 400 feet of a taller building).  Perhaps the most important detail is that the aircraft must remain within the operator’s sight, or an observer who can communicate with the operator, at all times.

So can you go get yourself and drone and start today?  Not quite… drone operators have to receive certification every 2 years and be at least years old.  They must also pass a background check by the TSA.

3 Ways Builders Benefit From Drones

Are you a homebuilder considering the use of drones on your sites?  Here are a few time- and money saving benefits that drones may offer builders.

  1. Surveying – eyes in the sky can help you quickly scan the job site and build out maps with surprising accuracy.

  2. Client Experience – we all know how interested your clients are in seeing the progress. Drones can offer an inventive way of providing them with current pictures, leading to higher satisfaction and more referrals for your business!

  3. Monitoring Multiple Sites - you often have more than one job going at a time, which requires shuttling between jobs to keep track of progress. Using a drone to provide more timely monitoring of multiple job sites could save you time, energy and money.

If you embrace the "work smarter, not harder" mentality, and are a brave early adopter of new technology, your business may skyrocket even higher than your drone!