Cellular towers graphic: JDA Journal
Cellular towers graphic: JDA Journal

The National Association of Tower Erectors is providing some summer reading, announcing the release of a new resource document titled Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations Around Vertical Communications Infrastructure created from a collaboration between NATE’s UAS Committee and other representatives from the commercial UAS industry.

Focusing on small UAS operations around wireless infrastructure, cellular towers, broadcast towers and electrical distribution towers, the document provides UAS utilization guidelines dealing with FAA requirements, flight operations, training provisions, documentations, safety reporting, emergency procedures, weather requirements, noise abatement and hours of operation. According to NATE Executive Director Todd Schlekeway, this will be the first of several best practice documents from the NATE UAS Committee regarding UAS technologies.

The Unmanned Aerial Systems Operations Around Vertical Communications Infrastructure resource book is available for free download on NATE’s website.

JDA Journal added expert commentary from Joseph Del Balzo, the President of JDA Aviation Technology Solutions and a former FAA Acting Administrator. Mr. Del Balzo suggested that the envelope needed to be pushed a bit further:

If this handbook could reach one greater degree of granularity, the guidance would become even more powerful as a safety tool. For example, the association’s pamphlet identifies the three major categories of Vertical Communications Infrastructure – cellular, broadcast and power transmission.

The physical characteristics of each, the positioning of the drone in relationship to equipment to be inspected and the currency/signals emanating from these three types of tower each pose different profiles for risk to the operator. If those unique characteristics could be catalogued and matched against the capabilities/frailties of the drones, a very useful matrix could be designed.

First, NATE is to be commended for developing a whitepaper outlining best practices for flying around towers. As an industry that will directly benefit from UAS inspection, this is forward looking.
That said if you are trying to wrap your head about the incredible attention to detail necessary to operate safely in these environments, look at the recommendations from a former FAA Administrator about how to make a good thing even better. This is the soul of an SOP, and the kind of procedural detail the FAA is looking for in a 333.
It is also in my opinion exactly the kind of thing that the insurance industry needs to promote to establish themselves as thought leaders – and of course to reduce risk.

read more at tvtechnology.com

read more at JDA Journal

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