A recent article in the Globe and Mail tells the story of Kirt Ejesiak, a resident of Iqaluit, Nunavut, in the Canadian north. Although he bought his drone to take real estate photographs, he soon discovered that he could make money by doing aerial inspections.
Proper building maintenance means doing regular, visual inspections of the exterior. The problem is that sometimes it can be difficult to see parts of the outside of the building, particularly if it is more than a few stories. Even a roof inspection on a one-storey home would be impossible without climbing up and taking a look.
This is where Ejesiak realized that instead of performing the time consuming and potentially dangerous task of setting up a ladder, climbing up, and walking on the roof to check its condition, he could just send his drone up, document with photos or video, and analyze the footage later.
Ejesiak isn't alone in realizing that not only is that option more thorough, it's also safer and quicker, especially if the building is tall. Using drones for building inspection is also a fraction of the cost to do a survey or an inspection using a harness and line off the top of a building.
"Drones can detect defects and anomalies that a naked eye cannot which is useful in data collection," says David Carlos, of Victoria Air Photos and Survey. "This is especially true for drones equipped with thermal imaging and infrared cameras, which can detect heat signature losses and other data."
But it isn't quite that easy — Transport Canada regulations much be followed at all times, and only a veteran UAS pilot should attempt the inspection. GPS guidance systems are not reliable the closer it gets to a building, and manual flying will be necessary if the GPS is suddenly disabled or lost.
Privacy and ground security are also challenges. "These can be mitigated with proper advance safety notice and permission form building management, security, as well as the occupants," says Carlos. "We want to warn them of the UAV flight activity in the area so they are not alarmed and remain clear of the flight path."
In order to legally fly your drone commercially, you must obtain a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada.
If you plan to hire someone to use a drone for an aerial inspection, here are a few questions you should ask the contractor:
Do they have an SFOC? The drone pilot must have an SFOC to comply with Transport Canada's regulations.
Are they insured? Transport Canada requires a minimum of $100,000 liability insurance on any drone being flown for commercial purposes.
What kind of camera do they have? The drone is only one half of the operation — you also need high quality images to do a thorough inspection.
Victoria Aerial Photos and Surveys is a business in Victoria BC seeking to offer safe and professional UAS (Unmanned Air Systems) services to the general public, corporations and the government in a wide spectrum of applications. Victoria Aerial Photos and Surveys provided the above images.