Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), sometimes also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), are simply any aircraft that does not have a human pilot. 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.
NDIS provides all flight operations in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107, Part 137 and DOT regulations. Additionally, all inspections and reporting are supervised by an engineer and conducted in accordance with the following specifications:
AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR TESTING AND METERIALS (ASTM)
F2908-18 Standard Specification for Unmanned Aircraft Flight Manual (UFM) for an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)
F3266-18 Standard Guide for Training for Remote Pilot in Command of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Endorsement
F3330-18 Standard Specification for Training and the Development of Training Manuals for the UAS Operator
F3364-19 Standard Practice for Independent Audit Program for Unmanned Aircraft Operators
F3365-19 Standard Practice for Compliance Audits to ASTM Standards on Unmanned Aircraft Systems
F3366-19 Standard Specification for General Maintenance Manual (GMM) for a small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS)
F3178-16: Standard Practice for Operational Risk Assessment of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)
F3269-17: Standard Practice for Methods to Safely Bound Flight Behavior of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Containing Complex Functions
AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS (ASCE)
AMERICAN PETROLEUM INSTITUTE (API)
Annex D, API 653 - Aboveground Storage Tank Inspector