FAA Calling in Drones for Facility Maintenance

Drones could augment maintenance, troubleshooting, restoration and emergency response activities in and around National Air Space facilities and infrastructure.   March 3, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor

Inspecting and repairing the exterior components of many institutional and commercial facilities are notoriously challenging tasks, especially with facilities taller than two stories that generally are out of easy reach for technicians using ladders and scaffolding. Managers often called in contractors with specialized equipment to access areas above that height. 

In recent years, managers have shown greater interest in the use of drones to give them the ability to visually inspect these hard-to-reach areas, and the federal government is following suit. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced it is evaluating the viability of using drones – often referred to as small, unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) – in augmenting maintenance operations, troubleshooting, restoration and emergency response activities, as well as evaluating potential risks and impacts in and around National Air Space (NAS) facilities and infrastructure. 

The selected contractor will work with the FAA's AJW-124 UAS operations team in the sUAS evaluation, according to Military + Aerospace Electronics. The sUAS service provider will assist the FAA in testing, planning, capturing, transferring and assessing datasets of several types, such as standard and high-definition 2D/red green blue (RGB), light detection and ranging (lidar), to develop methods to inspect and survey NAS facilities and infrastructure. 

These efforts require a contractor to provide sUAS services to the FAA. The selected contractor will have to make available all necessary professional, technical, administrative and management services to accomplish the FAA’s requirements. The services will support the FAA’s goal to integrate sUAS operations on and off airports safely and repeatably. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


Read next on FacilitiesNet