MaryBeth Matzek: R.A. Smith takes to the (unmanned) air to view job sites

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion

Thanks to an exemption from the FAA, a Brookfield consultant has a new resource — drones.

Also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, drones are “another surveying tool in our tool belt,” says Jon Chapman, a 3D laser scanning manager with the Brookfield-based engineering, surveying and technical services consulting company.

Earlier this month, R.A. Smith received the Section 333 exemption and is already putting UAV to use on job sites. “We hit the ground running,” Chapman says.

R.A. Smith is one of few Wisconsin companies to receive the Section 333 exemption from the FAA. Under this rule, companies can operate UAVs under 200 feet in the air only during daylight and stay in the operator’s line of sight. In addition, a licensed pilot must operate the controls of the UAV.

Nationwide, the FAA has approved 1,783 Section 333 exemptions.

In R.A. Smith’s case, Chapman says the company has found plenty of uses for UAVs on jobs by taking advantage of their ability to fly over sites and photograph what they see.

Read the full column