As drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), continue to see increased use in commercial applications, more industries—including electrical construction—are looking to see what all the fuss is about. Now, it’s becoming easier to get in on the action.
On Oct. 28, the Electrical Connection partnership hosted an informational session on UAV certification at the Electrical Industry Training Center in St. Louis. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently created a certification process for commercial drone operation, and now IBEW/NECA is developing a curriculum for this certification.
The primary goal of the new FAA rules is to minimize risk to the device’s surroundings, such as people, property and other aircraft in the area. As cool and potentially revolutionary as this technology is, UAVs must be used cautiously and responsibly. For example, they must not be flown out of visual contact and cannot exceed an altitude of 400 feet.
The certification offered by the Electrical Industry Training Center will go to more than just electricians and contractors. Other industries, such as first responders, real estate firms, civil engineering, filmmakers and more, will be able to participate and earn this certification.
For the electrical market, however, the potential uses for UAVs are many. These include thermal imaging, monitoring a project site, keeping track of site assets, 3-D mapping of topography for project planning purposes, and more. There are several reasons it helps to have an eye in the sky.
The use of UAVs is only going to expand in the coming years, and it’s going to do so dramatically. The number of commercial UAVs is expected to hit 2.7 million by 2020, compared to 600,000 now. Global UAV production is predicted to grow to more than $14 billion by 2026.
The training center is operated by the St. Louis Chapter of NECA and IBEW Local No. 1, and together they also form the region’s Electrical Connection partnership.
For more on commercial UAV use, see “The Buzz About Drones,” October 2016.