Drone Inspection

ATS Performs Drone-Assisted Visual Inspection


New Inspection Technology

Applied Technical Services is trusted around the world to conduct quality nondestructive examinations (NDEs). We have expanded our offerings to include drone inspections, which we perform to discover visible defects in large structures and equipment.

Spurred initially by hobbyist interest, drone technology has also seen rapid adoption rates in the last few years by businesses that see the potential drones offer commercially. Because we specialize in inspection services, ATS came to recognize how drones could help both our consulting engineering department and our clients during the inspection process.

A Case for UAV Inspections

Large equipment and tall structures often represent logistical challenges for an inspection team because of how difficult elevated areas can be to access. Previous options for visually assessing a location hundreds of feet high were limited; have a rope access technician descend from above or to send a visual inspector up on a crane — the latter of which is expensive and both of which are potentially dangerous. Drone technology now affords inspectors a faster, safer, and more convenient alternative.

By utilizing drones, otherwise known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs), ATS’ visual inspectors can reach and study locations that are normally difficult to access. Our drone inspection team is made up of a licensed UAV pilot who controls the vehicle and an experienced camera operator who captures the visual data.

Unlike other inspection services, our drone units are piloted by the same people that perform the inspections — namely certified technicians and professional engineers — who then draft their report based on the footage they gathered over the flight. This inter-disciplinary expertise allows ATS to provide solutions to any problems we locate during an inspection flight, whereas other services can only inform about them. Our drone inspection capabilities are ultimately a tool our technicians can use to ensure clients receive the same quality inspection services that they have come to expect with the added benefits of increased efficiency and safety.

Drone Inspection Capabilities

ATS’ engineering division employs a fleet of drones to perform visual inspections on client structures and equipment. Depending on the scope of the inspection, our technicians may choose from a variety of units specialized for different environments. By choosing the appropriate unit for the job, our inspectors can easily assess vast pipelines for damage from the air or examine internal conditions of a tank without performing confined space entry (CSE).

Because of the power and versatility of our drone units, ATS NDT can offer the following services:

  • Remote Visual Inspections
  • Thermal Imaging Inspections

Standards and Regulations

To ensure the continued order and safety of the airways in the wake of rapid drone adoption, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) created a list of rules and regulations for both recreational and commercial UAV usage. Part of ATS’ commitment to quality entails observing industry standards and government regulations when performing services for our clients. For that reason, we conduct every drone-assisted inspection in accordance with the following FAA regulations on commercial UAV use:

  • UAV may only be operated by FAA licensed drone pilot
  • UAV has to be registered for commercial flight with the FAA under part 107
  • UAV has to weigh less than 55lbs upon takeoff, including attachments and payload
  • Pilot must maintain visual line of sight with UAV during outdoor flights
  • UAV has to fly at 100mph or less
  • UAV cannot fly directly over people’s heads
  • Pilot cannot operate drone from a moving vehicle unless in a sparsely populated area

ATS and UAV Inspections

Since our founding in 1967, ATS has delivered world-class inspection, engineering consulting, and testing services. Our client base spans the globe and represents a broad variety of industries. Specific fields that can benefit from our drone inspection services are telecommunications, steel/aluminum, pulp/paper, power generation, oil/gas, nuclear, manufacturing, and construction.

Our clients trust ATS to provide them with detailed insight into the condition of their equipment because we consistently produce accurate results and present them in a clear and organized manner. We accomplish this by following our quality assurance program, which helps us guarantee systematically excellent service. ATS prioritizes quick turnaround times, accurate reporting, and accessible customer service in our effort to constantly improve the customer experience.

If your company needs a thorough visual inspection of a large structure or piece of equipment, contact ATS — with our drone capabilities, we can take a closer look.

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