Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Last update: Jan 13, 2017

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), sometimes also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), are simply any aircraft that does not have a human pilot. While in many contexts they are commonly referred to as drones, due to the negative connotations of that word most people who use them in a commercial setting prefer to call them either UAV or UAS.

UAS have a range of uses in variety of fields including recreational, commercial, or military purposes. It’s important to note though that in the United States, all aerial vehicles, manned or not, are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). All non-recreational, civil aircraft operations in the country must comply with FAA regulations.

While they can be used for several different types of inspection, UAS are primarily used for visual inspection. They tend to be equipped with incredibly high resolution cameras, which allow them to get a close up, accurate view of a structure, even from a great distance.

They can be used to inspect nearly any structure, both indoors and outdoors, but they are most useful in the inspection of structures that are difficult to reach by traditional means. This can include tall structures, such as flare stacks, elevated pipe trays, and cooling towers. It can include confined spaces in which space is limited for traditional inspections. It can also include structures that are over water such as bridges or the undersides of oil rig platforms.

Compared to traditional inspection, the use of UAS is cheaper, faster, and safer than traditional methods. For example, when inspecting flare stacks, traditional inspection is incredibly difficult and time consuming. UAS can inspect the stack in less than an hour, without requiring shutdown, the construction of scaffolding, or sending inspectors into dangerous situations.

 

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