Inspectioneering Journal

Unmanned Aerial Systems and the Regulatory Landscape

By Nick Harwood, VP - Operations at Aetos Group, and Aaron Cook, Vice President of Business Development at Aetos Group. This article appears in the March/April 2015 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Since the dawn of mankind, elevated perspectives have provided situational awareness for hunters and warriors. The ability to gain this unique perspective has recently become easier and safer with today’s technological advancements and is relevant for those reading this article because it can now be used for inspecting in-service assets in the O&G and chemical processing industries.

This new technology comes in the form of a miniature flying machine, better known as a drone or small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS). These systems can be a modified hobby aircraft or highly reliable, military grade aerial robots. These flying robots can carry a myriad of payloads that gather large amounts of actionable data from which decisions can be made. In the petrochemical and oil & gas industries, this technology can allow plant managers to gather critical information safer, cheaper, and faster than ever before. Predictive reliability can be more accurate and budgets can reflect a truer timeframe for repair or replacement.

Federal Aviation Administration

In 2007 the FAA started to notice these aircrafts were being used for commercial endeavors and quickly prohibited their use for anything other than recreational purposes. This was done primarily because regulators did not have a standard in place to ensure a safe National Airspace.

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